Pet pigs create problems in Essex - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Pet pigs create problems in Essex

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ESSEX, Vt. -

Cheryl Gruber loves her pets.

"They want to sleep with you, eat with you, they will follow you around," Gruber said.

But the four dozen miniature pigs living inside a home on Valleyview Drive in Essex have some people going hog wild.

"It's not fair you can't have a pet that is safer, quieter and the same size of many dogs," Gruber said.

After receiving a complaint from a neighbor, the town of Essex told Gruber she had to get rid of the pigs immediately or face fines.

"It's very straightforward," said Dana Hanley, the Essex Town community development director. "It can be argued these pigs can be considered livestock in nature, our zoning regulations specifically use the word hogs and we feel pretty confident these are perceived as hogs."

"They have no livestock value, in the United States they are not used as livestock," Gruber said.

Some communities in Vermont do allow people to have miniature pigs as pets. Essex Town does allow miniature pigs as pets in certain parts of town, but the Pinewood neighborhood is not one of them.

"We are not coming at this from a public health angle because the pigs are located inside the house. So, it is not a public health issue. We are coming strictly at this from a zoning regulation standpoint," Hanley said.

Gruber admits she has more pigs than she can handle because the former breeder had to move to the house on Valleyview Drive abruptly, but she wants to keep a couple.

"We would like the laws brought up to date so we can have our pets," she said.

Thursday afternoon, Gruber agreed to surrender all of the pigs to a woman in New Hampshire for now. But she plans on fighting the town to allow her to bring some of them back home.

"We hope the community would back us," she said. "There is no harm in having two or three like a dog."

A woman fighting to show her pigsty was not a mess as perceived by some.

People can bring petitions to change zoning regulations to potentially allow miniature pigs as pets. They must be submitted to the town planning commission.

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