Therapy Pig Gets Official Exemption from Coral Springs, Fla., Law
(CORAL SPRINGS, Fla.) -- It’s official. The owner of a mini Juliana emotional therapy pig that was at the center of a months-long local law dispute in Florida has been granted a waiver to keep the pig without penalty.
In a Jan. 18 letter, Coral Springs City Attorney John Hearn wrote that Heather Ray was allowed to keep the mini pig named Twinkie without running afoul of local ordinances that prohibit the keeping of pigs as pets.
Ray has initially requested an exemption from the law in September. She had bought Twinkie as an emotional therapy animal for her young son, Kason, who has Down syndrome.
Because of the city’s strict ordinances prohibiting the keeping of pigs, officials declined her request.
But Ray appealed to the city, explaining that an emotional therapy pet had been recommended by her son’s doctor, and her husband’s allergies wouldn’t allow them to get other kinds of animals because he could have a severe allergic reaction.
She wrote letters and spoke to several city officials, and even started a petition on Change.org to have the city ordinance changed to allow domestic miniature pigs as indoor household pets. When she closed the petition Monday, it had been signed by 285 people.
Ray also shared her story to the media, and the public voiced its strong disapproval of the city’s position.
“What’s wrong with you people? Let this boy have his pig,” Cari Robinson wrote on the city’s Facebook page.
When the city posted on its wall on Nov. 20 to wish its residents “a wonderful holiday season,” user Kara Whitehead wrote in reply: “Tell that to the boy that you will not allow to have his pet.”
The city eventually said it would reconsider her request if she submitted documentation certifying the need for an emotional therapy animal and of her husband’s allergies. She did.
Twinkie is a litter box-trained, indoor pet. At 4 months old, she weighs 6 pounds. When she grows into adulthood, she will measure about 12 inches tall and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds.
Ray had never been fined by the city, but officials had made it clear to her that she could be charged up to $500 per day for keeping the pig.
Speaking in an interview with ABC News Monday night, Ray said she was happy the issue had been resolved, but sorry that it had taken so long.
“It could have been so easy. You know, there’s nothing that has changed from today that was any different back in September when we started all of this and if they could have just been compassionate in the beginning and just asked for a prescription, asked for medical records that would give reasonable accommodation … we would have gladly given them all of that back in September and this would not have dragged out for months and months,” she said.
She said the public has been very understanding, and many have recognized Twinkie and asked to take pictures with her.
“People have been very nice, very, very supportive, very sweet about everything,” she said. “I haven’t had one negative comment … one person say anything ugly.”
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