Members of the Hope Town Council said last week that they were reluctant to allow a pot-bellied pig at a home in town.
The Town Council was asked last week to consider an exception to the recently enacted livestock ordinance for a family that had rescued a mini pot-bellied pig that helped soothe their disabled children's anxiety.
Town Manager J.T. Doane said that the family could not attend the meeting because of a family emergency. However they had asked to be allowed to keep the animal at their home, even though it is a violation of the livestock ordinance approved last year. Under that ordinance, pigs are not allowed in the town limits.
Doane said that the family was trying to get a doctor to certify that the pig was a service animal. But based on his research into the Americans with Disabilities Act, he did not believe a pig could qualify.
Animal control officer Lisa Hughes said that she had been in contact with the family and that their children would be devastated if the pig was required to leave the home. She said that she saw how calming the pig was for the children. Hughes said the pig was kept as an inside pet except when it leaves the home to play with the family dog.
"I am not saying to go against the ordinance, but I am saying that it helps the family also," Hughes said.
Hughes said that the family had rescued the pig from an abusive situation and they are currently making plans to move outside of the town limits. They are also trying to find a home for the pig in the meantime, Hughes said.
Council members Clyde Compton, Ed Johnson and Nellie Meek said that if the doctor certified that the pig is required as a therapy animal, that they might reconsider.
"I don't know the circumstances, but I have a terrible time bending the rules for something like that," Johnson said.
Council President Compton said that he was concerned that such a decision could open the floodgates for other livestock. Councilman Jerry Bragg also said that he did not want to open a can of worms.
Councilman Ohmer Miller said he already thinks that the town went too far in allowing chickens inside the town limits.
Otherwise the council gave Hughes until their next meeting to help find the animal a new home or move it out of the community.
In other business:
Council approved a new ordinance setting fees for animal control.
Doane said that he, Town Marshall Matt Tallent and Jeff Jones, the head of the county's anti-opiate initiative will meet this week to discuss the ongoing heroin epidemic.