A Fort Mill woman’s petition to keep her pot-bellied pig in town limits was heard Monday night, but the council made no decision.
Mayor Guynn Savage promised to contact pet owner Nicolle Burrell once they have decided.
“You don’t have to get rid of her until that decision is made,” the mayor told Burrell. “I completely understand loving a pet. We just have to make sure we aren’t individualizing an ordinance.” (Story continues below)
Burrell asked the council to change the town’s ordinance or give her an exception to let her keep her pot-bellied pig as a family pet. She said has had her “pet mini pig” for almost four years at her home on Myers Street without any issues from her neighbors, she said.
But she recently received a letter from code enforcement claiming a violation of a town ordinance making it unlawful “for any person to keep or maintain any hog, chicken or other fowl within the town.” Burrell said the town gave her 15 days to get rid of her pig, Ruby. She got an extension of a week to let her take the case to the town council.
Mayor Savage said town officials were simply responding to a citizen complaint, assuring Burrell that they do not go house to house looking for violations. “We didn’t single you out for any reason,” she said.
The council will study the issue and consider state regulations from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the mayor said. She said she is concerned after hearing that pigs cannot be vaccinated.
“As far as I know, that is not true,” Burrell said.
Burrell argued Monday that the ordinance that refers to “hog” was written in 1984 before pot-bellied pigs were introduced into this country.
“When this was written, the only pigs that were present were in fact just swine and hogs,” Burrell told the Fort Mill Sun. “Zoning laws at that time were simply to cover farm animals and livestock (hence the term used: HOG) which weighed up to 800 pounds and are much different than the companion domestic pot bellied pig. My pot bellied pig, Ruby, is fully grown, the size of a medium dog and the mere weight of 120 pounds.”
Burrell said Ruby is not a hog. She is a family member.
“Ruby is my baby,” she said. “I am heartbroken over this entire situation and am going to do everything I can to keep Ruby in the only home she has ever known.”
Burrell gathered letters and petitions signed by neighbors in the Sharon Hills neighborhood. She says they love Ruby and come to visit her regularly.
But Mayor Savage said the council and town will follow their process in reviewing the rules and cannot cave to “the court of public appeal.” She promised to give the issue “careful consideration.”