July 22, 2016 - 8:00 PM
VERNON - Vernon’s mayor is open to exploring the idea of allowing pet pigs in the city after a local woman launched a petition to keep her four-legged friend at home.
Swine are not allowed within Vernon city limits, except for on designated farmland. The city’s Animal Regulation and Animal Pound bylaw prohibits all non-companion animals — essentially anything that’s not a cat, dog, rabbit, guinea pig, rodent or reptile.
But at least some Vernon residents think micro-pigs — a smaller variety of swine — should also be considered companion animals, and ought to be allowed to stay.
Last June, a local family applied for — and was granted — a variance to the city’s bylaw which permitted them to keep their pot-bellied pig, Felix.
Now, Vernon woman Coralee Carrier is the latest pig owner to take on city hall. She wasn’t available for an interview, but describes the situation in an online petition that raked in more than 1000 signatures over the past few days.
“Layla is our 30 lbs. baby mini pig, best-friend and companion. Recently my spouse and I have been served with a letter stating we have 30 days to re-home her or try to change the decision on this,” she says.
Layla the pig has her own Instagram account (@princess_pig_layla) and can be seen playing in a pink kiddie pool, going for walks, cuddling up in bed, and taking selfies with her owner.
There are no provincial regulations prohibiting pigs in residential neighbourhoods and it’s up to individual communities to decide how they want to handle them. In Vernon, enforcement of the animal regulation bylaw is typically triggered by complaints. Vernon mayor Akbal Mund believes that was the case with Layla the pig.
“My understanding is there was a complaint from a resident because the pig is left outside alone, and what happens is it squeals,” Mund says. “I haven’t talked to the neighbour, but if the pig is squealing outside all day, I understand the complaint.”
But, he’s open to reviewing the bylaw and considering options to regulate pet pigs in the city.
“Maybe we have to license pigs like we do with dogs, I don’t know,” Mund says. “I’ve had discussions with administration about maybe looking at the bylaw and saying if it (pig) is under a certain weight it’s okay. We’ll review that.”
Under the current bylaw, the only way a person can keep a pet pig is if they get a bylaw variance.
Issues with pet pigs are not common at Vernon city hall, and Clint Kanester, the manager of protective services, says they’ve only received one complaint for a pig this year.
“We do periodically have complaints about goats and ducks,” Kanester says. “Someone had a lamb in their house once.”
Local vets say they don’t have a lot of clients with pet pigs, although there are a few. The Creekside Animal Clinic says it has a handful of clients with micro-pigs, but remark the trend does not seem as popular as it was a year ago.
One of the problems with pet pigs according to the B.C. SPCA is that so-called ‘micro’ or ‘teacup’ pigs often end up growing to 200 pounds.
Yet, the Vernon area doesn’t appear to have a big problem with people getting in over their heads with pet pigs. Vernon SPCA manager Chelsea Taylor can’t recall ever seeing a pet pig surrendered to the shelter, and suspects they are either not an issue here, or are easy to re-home due to the prevalence of farms in the area.
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