The best combination legal-housing-trend story of the day is surely the one about New Yorkers who have to keep their pet pigs secret, due to the "stigma" of pig-keeping (is there really a stigma about keeping pigs? Isn't this what all the cool kids are doing?). But more than the stigma, there's this other problem: City health code forbids people from keeping pigs as pets, saying "pigs are a public health risk because they cannot be vaccinated for rabies and can become aggressive, especially during their first few years."
The thing is, a person who loves pigs is not just going to stop loving pigs because of some silly law or "health code." People who love their pigs know that their pigs are not "aggressive." We've seen this with cats and dogs and rodents and every so often a tiger or two. So up springs a whole world of underground pig-keeping, which is really only underground until the pigs get noticed by the neighbors, or the pig-keepers talk to the media. No one knows how many pigs there are in the city, but we do know that there are at least three of them.
Brooklyn-brownstone-dweller and potbellied pig owner Timm Chiusano tells the AP's Jake Pearson, "People think it's weird and a novelty but they're really sweet and really smart animals." He got in trouble with the pigs in his last place, because they peed in the lobby. Now his pigs—"five-year-old Cholula and Runtly"—weigh, respectively, 200 and 70 pounds. They can't climb stairs, Chiusano has had to put in special flooring for their hooves, and "he's also constantly resodding his tiny backyard because the grass is essentially a salad bar for swine."
Elsewhere in pig-owning, Danielle Forgione of Queens has been told by her co-op and by the city she has to get rid of her 40-pound pig, Petey. (Petey has a Facebook page.) She petitioned the city to create a health-code exception for "domesticated mini pigs," to no avail. "She's exhausted her appeals and has until later this summer to remove Petey or authorities will do it for her," writes Pearson. Last month New York State Senator Tony Avella spoke out to try to get a pig exemption for Petey. As he told the New York Post, "People die on [illegal] construction sites . . . and yet our threatening enforcement is against the person who has a small pig. There is a total inconsistency in the way the city deals with certain activities.”
Well, that seems rather true. Also true: What the heart wants, the heart wants. And if the heart wants pigs, who should deny that heart? Save Petey, and keep your pigs under blankets.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.