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posted to the pig network and reprinted by permission of:   Rebecca DiNolfi

To the Potbellied Pig community

At this time I feel a very urgent need to address a reoccurring situation about the scare tactics that animal control and zoning officers are using all over this country to make people panic and dispose of their Pet Pig without a hearing. It has come to my attention in the last couple of days because of the large overload of zoning cases I have been getting that these cases are very similar in one respect. That is this, these case’s either don’t have any paper work involved such as a summons or the families are given anywhere from 24 hrs to one week to remove their pet pig from their homes. If they don’t comply in that amount of time, they are told that they will be fined up to $500.00 or as much as $40.00 a day in some cases This is just a way to scare people into getting rid of their pet pig as fast as they can. What most of these people do not realize is they have a right to their day in court. No matter what anyone tells you. Or in these cases a right to appear in front of the zoning board to present their case. The first thing you must do in a case like this is contact the Municipality immediately and notify them that you are going to fight this and ask what you need to do to start your defense. When you do it puts everything on hold until you have your hearing. Even the fines. The next thing you do is get all the information you can get your hands on that the Potbellied pig is a pet to do your presentation at your hearing. Get as many people as you can to appear with you to testify on your behalf and the behalf of your pet. .I would also like to say here too that if the first time they don’t let you keep your pig you have appeals you can use. It is never over until it is over. Be professional and persistent I have gotten a lot of cases were the families of the Potbellied Pig are given only a few days to dispose of their pig. Yes you heard me, Dispose of their pet pig like it is so much garbage. First of all in a lot of these cases there isn’t even any paperwork given to the family.  This means that the municipality wherever it might be located is not following Due Process of the law and is defiantly in default and this can be used as a legal loop hole in that case They must follow Due Process or the case can and, has in some cases been thrown out of court. What seems to happen is this. Because of the very limited education these Municipalities have about the Potbellied Pig as a pet ,these Municipalities feel that a Pig is just a Pig and therefore there can never be an emotional attachment to such an animal. Wrong!This is where they make a big mistake. When they do find out that the person that is a care giver of a Potbellied pig is not going to be intimidated and that the person is going to stand their ground and fight to keep their pet pig things usually settle down. With the help of all the information we have available and some very good education on the subject These cases can and are in most cases won. Not all cases. If a municipality defiantly decides no matter what we do or what proof we have that the Pet Potbellied Pig is a pet there will be no pigs in their community there is absolutely nothing that can be done. The best bet for the person living in this community is to pick their Pet Pig up and move to a pig friendly community. This just happened in Illinois this past year, Hinsdale to be exact. What I would like to stress here is: Please don’t let any Municipality use scare tactics to make you dispose of your pet pig. If you do think that they will come and try to take your pig then you will have to use good judgement and get it to a safe place while you fight this battle. Never let your pet be in jeopardy . When your pet is safe then you can fight to bring it home again . I am here to help all you have to do is contact me

Rebecca DiNolfi
International Zoning Consultant

Here is a letter we at Shepherds Green have used for people in the past. You may copy it and use it but please do not change it in any way. If you want a changed version please contact us.


The Pot Bellied Pig Story 

In our country  we have what is called the Exotics Market. It is, quite simply, a way to exploit species of animals not common in the U.S. by obtaining USDA importation permissions and doing some excellent marketing to create a demand at exorbitant prices. What becomes of the animals after the initial influx and the fad wears off is of no concern to the Exotics Market. Unlike importation of new types of food animals, exotics have a flash of popularity and then become the victims of a faddish culture.

 In 1986 Keith Connell brought in 14 sows and 4 boars from Canada as exotic pigs and started a craze that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of innocent pigs dying horribly of neglect, abuse and disinterest.  The gene pool was irresponsibly small to create a viable healthy breed to start with and the marketing was founded on the ignorance of the public.

Marketed solely as “house pets” and described as sweet tempered, intelligent and not exceeding 20 to 40 pounds at adulthood, people who had money and the desire for an unusual pet went crazy. I was there at the onset of this craze and saw pigs selling for $33,000 at a small auction barn in Pennsylvania.  These animals breed at 52 days (boys) and 3 months (girls), have easily 2 litters a year and can be kept in small areas, like piggy mills. What a boon to the “quick buck” entrepreneur!  Now they are given away at every flea market. The fad is over.

The inbreeding has caused massive birth defects that are sometimes life threatening but more often cause pain and suffering for many years before resulting in death. The lack of good behavioral information has caused scores of thousands to be killed for “Aggression” that really is NOT aggression but the natural instinct to mate, and claim their “territory” as they become mature. The deliberate misinformation promulgated by breeders, of how to keep them small, by feeding them starvation size rations, causes long lingering deaths from malnutrition as their organs fail to develop as they grow. Keeping them in close confinement causes depression and death. 

Most Animal Control and Humane facilities don’t offer them any services at all, not even a chance for euthanasia. For the ones who do take them in, euthanasia is the result in 99+% of the cases. Pigs simply aren’t very appealing as adults and aren’t adopted.

For the others, they are dumped in state parks, pushed out of cars along the road,  used for baiting fighting dogs, sent to be killed in hunting parks, shot, or left out in the yard with no shelter or water to die of heat stoke, freezing or dehydration. The nightmare is full of bad endings to the life that started so full of promise in a tiny piglet. Statistically, as best we can estimate from what national data we have compiled, the expectancy for a piglet is that his chances of reaching 2 years old are 1 in 100.  The result, primarily, of misinformation and loss of interest.

Occasionally someone becomes truly committed to their pot bellied pig and offers him a loving, lifetime home. And then some city council decides that “A pig is a pig” and says that they have to be removed.  What a cruel and usually deadly irony..

 Nobody with any knowledge of the potbellied pig or his history can seriously think these 100 pound pets are “livestock”. They are not even livestock in their native country but rather, are the village “garbage disposals” and dogs are the main entrée.  Livestock markets do not want them and packing houses don’t process them. There is no meat on a pot bellied pig, just a lot of fat and some bones and a strong desire to live, like any other pet.   

Some states have set the matter to rest by specifically stating the obvious, that Potbellied pigs are NOT in the same classification as Livestock. Tennessee is one of those and their animal abuse laws specifically spell out pots as household pets. Other states are doing the same. Other cities and counties are spending time and money reviewing data like this to establish their own rules.  In most cases the law is amenable to fact and these are the facts:

1) Pot bellied pigs are no more “Swine” than your Maine Coon cat is a Bengal Tiger.  Yes, both are felines, they exhibit some similar characteristics, and can interbreed and produce viable offspring but which would you want on your bed at night? 

2) Pot bellied pigs are exceedingly clean by nature, have no body odor and if fed a proper pot bellied pig feed have no odor to their droppings except an earthy sort of smell, like dirt.  Challenge anyone to a sniff test of a dog’s excrement and a piggy’s and that will answer that question beyond any possible doubt.

3) Pot bellied pigs do not carry diseases that are cross species infectious to humans as many other types of pets do.

4) Pot bellied pigs do not harbor fleas

5) Pot bellied pigs do not bark or make other loud noises unless attacked

6) Pot bellied pigs sleep most of time once they reach 3 years of age

7) Pot bellied pigs cannot jump fences or climb over them to get out and wander the streets

8) Un-spayed female pigs are not at risk of stray boars breeding them and producing large populations of unwanted stray animals in the streets.

9) Pot bellied pigs do not cause allergies (no dander)


Given these facts, what neighbor do you want? A pot bellied pig? Or a big dog who may climb or jump a fence, bite a child, breed any females he can find, spread fleas, leave offensive droppings on the sidewalk, urinate on the rose bushes, carry diseases that your grandmother can get, get into dog fights, bark all night at the moon, chase cars and make you sneeze?

Cities, counties and developments who are today facing the question of what is a good pet for the neighborhood might want to take the lead of progressive communities that have permitted the possession of household pets, including pot bellied pigs,  as long as they are neutered and kept in their own yard. The opening of the subject for discussion is an ideal time to add some enhancements to reduce the population of unwanted dogs and cats by adding a few new rules. All pets should be neutered.  Any un-neutered animal should be in a regulated and inspected breeding classification.

   I encourage you to take this opportunity to improve the community standards for all pets, and include the pot bellied pig in the classification.  


 Peggy Couey

Shepherd’s Green Sanctuary

Cookeville, TN 38506