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Town Council Turns Down Ban On Keeping Mini Pot …

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CAROLINA BEACH –  The Carolina Beach Town Council agreed to take no action on a proposal to ban Miniature Vietnamese Pigs” as pets within Town limits during their Monday April 8th, meeting.

According to Jeremy Hardison with the Town’s Planning Department, “The Planning and Zoning Commission requested staff to present an ordinance to prohibit miniature Vietnamese pigs as an allowable domestic animal within town. To regulates what types of animals are accepted because of the location and density of residential and commercial developments, and the seasonal influx of population, and the general seasonal weather and insect conditions encountered, and in protection of the lifestyles and business investments of the citizenry, and as protection to the community’s tourist industry alike.”

Hardison created a list  of animals or fowl that currently can be kept or harbored within or outside a residential dwelling and which requires reasonable and minimal attention and/or maintenance.

That list includes dogs, hamsters, caged birds, ferrets, cats, hens, rabbits, small reptiles, miniature Vietnamese pigs, turtles, gerbils and small nonpoisonous lizards.

While pigs are currently included in the list of permitted animals, the is another list of currently prohibited animals. Those include goats, horses, sheep, mules, pigs, ostriches, hogs, roosters, cows,  ducks or geese, bulls, large reptiles and snakes.

Hardison explained, “Staff is not aware of any pigs in Town. Early this year we did get a compliant from a home owner that her tenants had pigs, but they were allowed under the ordinance. The homeowner had the pigs removed from her property. The commission concerns were the nuisances that were being caused by the pigs such as tearing up the grass, odor and flies.”

According to Pot-bellied pigs, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, and Chinese pot-bellied pigs grow to a range from 125 pounds to over 200 pounds and 16 to 26 inches tall. Some breeders also use this range for miniature pot-bellied pigs.

While there are varying breeds of pigs smaller than a 1,000 pound farm pig, one of the smallest is a Micro Mini Pig which can grow to 18 to 30 pounds and 10 to 12 1/2 inches tall.

A Carolina Beach resident named Sandy spoke during the Council’s meeting stating, “I am the owner of a pedigreed Vietnamese miniature pet pig (also known as mini or hybrid kind) his name is Rudy.  I have lived on the island since 2017.  I sold my home in Wilmington, and I am a renter on Carolina Beach.  I have a 20 year history of marriage to a law enforcement officer.  My current landlord lives in the other half of the house, and there are no problems with Rudy. I am a medical professional employed by the federal government.  I used to own a Pet Sitting Service, and I volunteered with animal rescues for a decade.  I am no different than anyone else.” 
Sandy explained, “I have documentation that shows that the Federal government agency The US Department of Agriculture considers Pot Bellied Pigs pets… not livestock. I have many other state and county zoning outlines concerning pet pigs to give you ideas. Including one from Escamia Co. FL, near Destin which is a beachtown. You are welcome to all my proven documentation. I have the tools, and access to all information needed to establish good guidelines for an ordinance to allow pet pigs on Carolina Beach.”

She explained, “I have a male pig that is part Juliana and part miniature. Rudy weighs 52 lbs, 15 inches tall, he is the size of a beagle.   He was born on Jan. 1st, 2014.  He is  5 years. old, and is fully grown.  I researched pigs for four years before I purchased him.  He was bought from a reputable breeder at Springwoods Pet Pigs in Honesdale, PA, whom was on an Animal Planet episode.  Rudy was the pick of the litter.  He was the smallest.  He is white with black spots, and has one brown eye and one blue eye.   Rudy is my loved pet, he is not a farm animal.  I am not going to sell or eat him.  He does not smell, and he is not destructive inside or outside.”
Sandy said her neighbor has a female pig from the original Connel line of pigs that weighs 35 pounds and is five years old.

She explained, “Both are rare breeds. Rudy is micro chipped, neutered – this reduces the smell of his urine – he was litter box trained at 6 weeks of age.  His litter box is cleaned daily.  He is on a very strict diet.  His pig pellets are Mizzouri brand this is the best food to reduce smell.  He is not fed waste.  He eats vegetables bought weekly from the grocery store.  He is fully cared for by Avian Exotic veterinarian in Raleigh, or Pine View veterinarian out of Bolton will come to my house if needed.”

Sandy said pigs are easy to care for and cheap in terms of food and health care. She explained, “There are people everywhere that own these pigs.  Including two of my friends in Wilmington.  I can reference the American Mini Pig Association, and I am a member on Pet Pig Advice Network online to gain knowledge of these pigs. Rudy is 100% tame, he kisses me, I can feed him one pellet at a time with my fingers.  He has never bit anyone.  I contacted Sergeant Blissit from the NHC Sheriff’s Animal Control Dept.  There were 486 dog bites reported in 2018.  There is 1 known pig bite that was in 2017.  Rudy is a very nice pig.  If you rub his belly he flops on his side immediately. “

She explained, “I couldn’t have kids.  I raised my nephew for my sick sister. I was a therapeutic foster parent to approximately 30 kids. The decision to buy a pig was a long thought out process. He has been treated like my baby from the moment I picked him up.  He was put up my sweatshirt for the three hour drive back to my family in Lancaster, PA.  He still climbs up my sweatshirt. He loves people of all ages. He always wants to be touching someone if possible.   Rudy is very smart, can understand many commands, and makes different sounds to communicate with me.  He gets upset if yelled at, so I speak to him in a calm tone.  If I shake a feed can he will run to me.  He will look at me before he is getting ready to try to do something bad.”

Sandy said Rudy sleeps in bed with her by using a miniature set of stairs and while her dogs hair irritates her eyes, she’s not allergic to Rudy’s hair.

She described Rudy stating, “He loves to root in big fluffy bedding, and to be warm. He gets a bath weekly with no problem.  He gets his eyes, ears, and teeth cleaned as well.  He will flip over for me to do his other side.  His face and hooves are cleaned nightly. He is not allowed to be in the house dirty.”

Sandy explained, “The yard is cleaned daily even if I have to do it with a flashlight.  He sleeps in a medium size dog house outside. My landlord works from home, he is rarely at home alone.  He is not allowed outside unless it is at least 55 degrees, and anything above 90 degrees is too hot. He wears sunscreen in the summer, so he doesn’t get sunburn.  The yard is sand and Bermuda hay.  He eats the grass all around the wooden fence.  He has a baby pool to cool off in.”

Sandy said beach homes are rented during the summer by vacationers who often say they love Rudy. She explained, “I have a sign on the fence stating what he is allowed to eat. He runs out of his house as soon as he hears the cars pull in, and will grunt so they know he is there. He puts his hooves up on the fence so they will pet him.”

Sandy said her dogs name is Remi and is a large breed mix of Rottweiler and Burmese mountain dog.  She explained, “My dog is much larger than the pig.  They get along fine, and both dislike rain. Neither animal is perfect. The two animals and I evacuated the hurricane together in a sedan to Tennessee.”

She explained, “Pigs are highly intelligent similar to a three year old toddler, they are rated number three in intelligence next to gorillas and monkeys, and elephants. They have feelings, and can learn tricks.  There are many myths surrounding pigs, and I have documentation that will show you different.  They are used as emotional support therapy, and companion animals.  They love a routine schedule.  Pigs are clean, dirt dries and falls off of them.  Pigs can be a positive attraction to communities, and sometimes even bring media coverage.”

She explained, “A ban of pigs in my opinion is a drastic measure for a one problem tenant/landlord situation. Without being judgemental…it sounds like possibly the owners were at fault if their animals were not cared for properly. Also, maybe the landlords oversight for not having specifics in a lease.”

Sandy suggested making rules for keeping pigs as pets, but not implement a ban. She suggested rules governing weight and height limits, requiring fences, a leash law, limiting the number of pigs in a household, restricting size to only small breeds and other controlling measures.

She explained, “I checked Carolina Beach town ordinance on pigs before I moved here. I am asking for Rudy to please be grand fathered into any new laws if put in place.  We deserve a variance.  It would create great confusion for Rudy if I had to get rid of him.  I love living here, and the thought of moving is horrible. I do not believe in abandoning my pets.”

The question of whether or not pet pigs are required to get the same vaccinations and other animals – for example, rabies vaccine – was discussed.

Sandy said Rudy does get his shots, but they are not required. Also, pet pigs do not have to be registered with the County.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth pointed out that non-poisonous lizards and snakes do not have to be registered with County Animal Control and neither do caged birds.

Mayor Joe Benson said, “Jeremy I think you pointed it out, Animal Control is the check on health and safety.”

Benson asked, “Is there any documented or listed cases of issues with public health and safety as a result of the pig or call in complaints to the police department? We are dealing with one complaint.”

The complaint that led to the issue coming before Town Council was with a different owner, not Sandy, and Hardison explained, “Our code enforcement officer received a complaint [from the landlord] and he investigated it. He did see the pigs. They were determined to be classified as Miniature Vietnamese Pigs. They are allowed under the ordinance. So he called the owner up and said sorry ma’am there is nothing we can do these are an allowed animal.”

Councilman Jodan Garza explained, “I think we are all asking because I think it’s at a point where I ultimately don’t want to hear this because it even says wasn’t even aware there’s pigs in Town. So we have one complaint driven to change this amendment.”

Hardison said, “When staff originally wrote the memo we hadn’t received any other complaints. We were’t preview to any other miniature pigs or pigs in the Town. Since that time we have been notified since it was advertised that some residents have reached out to us and said, in fact, I actually do have a pig and what does this mean for me if this moves forward.”

Hardison said the Planning Commission sent the recommendation to Town Council to eliminate miniature pigs from the list of pets that are allowed to be kept within Town limits.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said Council previously approved allowing people to keep chickens in Town under certain limits and restrictions, but there are no similar limits for dogs and cats and other permitted types of pets.

Hardison said, “That really falls into [New Hanover County] Animal Control. They can come in. They have jurisdiction in Carolina Beach and enforce any regulations.”

Shuttleworth explained, “Clearly outside nuisances. If it affects neighbors and you know if there are odors or an inordinate amount of waste, there is Animal Control as opposed to just a blanket we’re not going to allow it and change the ordinance. Have we tried that on this particular complaint? I hate to see us do text amendments on an issue of a complaint.”

Hardison said other communities have various regulations regarding keeping such pigs as pets.

Mayor Joe Benson explained, “As you point out Jeremy, if it is an acute problem to health, we have a County Animal Control that can come and step in. My fear is, we do this and then we’ve got the non-poisonous lizards and we could get one of these every month.”

Councilman Garza said, “And feral cats, dogs and hamsters” could also become the topic of future amendments.

Council member Leann Pierce asked, “So do we currently have in our code where for instance if the code enforcement comes out, let’s say it’s six dogs in the yard and it smells and it’s loud and unkept, do we currently have code enforcement for that? The ability to enforce that.”

Hardison explained, “If there is another nuisance. Is it causing trash debris, high grass, is it the activity causing another nuisance…. That is where Animal Control could come in and help us out.”

Hardison said Animal Control officials are, “Looking at the health and safety and living conditions of the animal.”

He said there are other pet pigs in Town including Rudy, and no complaints have been reported for any of them other than the one case that was originally presented to the Planning Commission and the owners were told by their landlord it was a breach of their lease.

Council member Pierce pointed out that most Homeowner’s Associations in subdivisions have regulations prohibiting or restricting ownership of various types of animals as pets.

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