EUNICE — After a brief scare, Dr. Porkchop and his brother Baloo likely will get to stay with their human family.
With more than 2,300 signatures attached to her online petition between Monday and Wednesday and the City’s promise to work with Pork-chop’s owner Katrina Turner of Eunice appears set in Turner’s efforts to keep her pet Potbelly Pigs, also called a Mini Juliana Pigs.
Turner originally received a “red tag” warning from city police officers giving her 10 days to relocate the pets outside the city and remove her weeds, according to Police Chief Jimmy Jones.
Jones explained, “The City of Eunice has an ordinance against having what’s deemed as livestock within the city limits. … There are exceptions to those rules; however, pigs are not one of the exceptions. Basically, the way the rule is written is you’re not allowed to have any type of pig or swine inside the city limits of Eunice.”
Officers didn’t set out to find pigs in Turner’s home, but while canvassing houses in Eunice to encourage weed control by issuing 10-day red tags, they followed up on a neighbor’s complaint, Jones said.
“They were given a 10-day notice for the weeds and for the pigs,” he said, following which Turner approached city officials with the information that her pigs are pets, not livestock. Jones said, “So, we directed the young lady to contact city hall and they would have to go through a process to see if the city council could change the ordinance to allow potbelly pigs or different types of livestock animals.”
City Manager Marty Moore confirmed the recommendation to change the ordinance is on the City Council’s agenda for the next meeting on Tuesday.
“I visited with her (Turner). We’ve got it on the agenda for the council meeting asking the city council if they can amend the ordinance. Right now, the ordinance says pigs and that type of thing are not allowed in town,” Moore said. “This is a comfort animal for the lady, so we’re going to try to work with her on it.”
Meanwhile, the 10-day removal order has been amended to allow Turner to keep her family pig while the city discusses the potential ordinance amendment.
“We’ve already given instruction to back off, so she’s going to be fine,” Moore said.
“Since being given a 10-day warning to relocate my mini pigs Dr. Porkchop and Baloo, there has been an outcry of support from all over, including the amazing people from this town,” Turner said.
She said Mayor Matt White also responded to her with support, inviting her to meet with him on Monday and the city council on Tuesday. White was not available for comment on Wednesday.
“Mini pigs may seem to be an odd pet to some but thousands all over America have come to love these intelligent animals,” Turner said. “They are pets, much different than commercial farm hogs. Although Dr. Porkchop is about 90 pounds, he is closer to the size of an English Bulldog. They also have the intellectual and emotional capacity as that of a 3- to 5-year-old child. My family is hoping that by Tuesday we will never have to worry about losing our pets again.”
Her statement onrequesting signatures on a petition to change the ordinance drew 2,329 supporters by Wednesday mid-afternoon.
In a lengthy paragraph explaining her situation, Turner describes her pets.
“Dr. Porkchop is an intelligent member of our family. He can follow commands such as ‘sit pretty,’ ‘turn’ in a circle, ‘up’ and ‘no.’ He is harnessed trained and walks on a leash. He knows his name and nicknames,” she said. “He absolutely has to be tucked into bed at night and loves to steal blankets. He is potty trained for outside only and never has accidents inside the house.”
She said Dr. Porkchop’s “human sister” has even taken him to school to educate classmates about pet pigs.
The social media website invites those signing petitions to offer their reasons. Remarks are recorded from across the country, including nearby cities.
Brandy Duplissey of Carlsbad said, “I have owned a pot belly and they are just like a dog. Smarter and cleaner than most, if not all, animals that are allowed within city limits.” Tabitha Holder of Hobbs said, “This baby deserves to stay with his family!!”
Roswell’s Jon McDonald said, “Mini pigs are extremely intelligent animals and I see them as pets in many families and to remove a family pet from someone’s family isn’t right. Morally it’s just wrong.”
Lorissa Goff of Lovington said, “You’re trying to get rid of a family member who is like a child to them.”
Other comments came from elsewhere in New Mexico as well as Arizona, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and many more. Police Chief Jones pretty much agreed with the comments, pointing out that he has seen other pet potbelly pigs and pigmy goats.
“It’s not typically something that we go out and try to strictly enforce; however, when you have neighbors complaining about the smell and the conditions, that’s when we step in. That’s the way the ordinance was written, so she was given a warning for that,” he said. “Now, I know she has initialized the process to speak with the city council to see if she can get that ordinance adjusted or changed.”
Moore said concern about the ordinance related to pet pigs is new in Eunice.
“People have had those as pets in other places and, ironically, this issue has never come up before the council, at least not since I’ve been here,” Moore said. “We’ve had an issue with chickens before. The city council amended that ordinance,” he said. “This lady came in and said, ‘Hey, is there a chance that the council will look at this?’ and I told her, ‘Absolutely.’ So, we’ll be having it in front of the council.”