Pet Therapy Pig May Get Exception from Coral Springs, Fla.
(CORAL SPRINGS, Fla.) — The city of Coral Springs, Fla., may reconsider its decision not to grant the waiver a local mother sought for her son’s miniature pet therapy pig.
Heather Ray got the tiny Juliana pig named Twinkie for her 8-year-old son, Kason. She believes the animal helps Kason with the significant emotional problems he deals with as a result of his Down’s syndrome. And since her husband and oldest son suffer from severe allergies, she couldn’t get Kason a dog or other type of animal that would cause a reaction.
Her husband and son are not allergic to Twinkie, Ray said.
The city’s ordinances prohibit the keeping of pigs because they’re considered livestock. Ray wrote to the city about two months ago to request a variance or an exemption, but the officials said they couldn’t grant her request. She bought the pig anyway, saying she did some homework and found that federal law governing people with disabilities would apply to her son having the therapy pet.
Now, the city may be softening its stance. On Thursday, Ray told ABCNews.com that the city had written to ask her for more information in order to re-consider her request.
In a letter dated Nov. 27, 2012, City Attorney John J. Hearn wrote to ask her for medical records relating to her husband’s allergy and whether his allergy was triggered by the pig’s dander.
He also asked her for more documentation from her son’s pediatrician. Ray initially submitted a doctor’s prescription recommending a therapy pet for Kason but, in his Tuesday letter, Hearn asked Ray to submit a more specific prescription.
“To date we have not received a prescription for the pig, but rather a generic prescription for an emotional support animal. If you have a prescription identifying the pig as an emotional support animal, please provide that documentation,” Hearn wrote. “If you provide the additional information, we will be able to reevaluate the applicability of the ordinance.”
Ray talked with Hearn on Tuesday and said they could arrive at a compromise. She added that he promised her the family would not be fined and that the city would not remove Twinkie from their home.
Ray had not been fined, but the city had made it clear that she could be charged up to $500 per day for keeping Twinkie.
ABC News attempted to reach several Coral Springs officials after hours on Thursday but did not receive a response.
After the city’s initial decision not to grant the Rays an exception, people vented their frustration online, including on the city’s Facebook page.
“What’s wrong with you people? Let this boy have his pig,” user Cari Robinson wrote.
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.”
Even though the situation has dragged out for two months, Heather Ray is grateful for the apparent resolution. She plans to deliver the specific prescription to the city on Friday.
“You know, I’m happy,” she said. “I’m thankful that they’re … being sensitive about it. I’m happy that they’re looking at it as what it is and it’s not just a pig as a pet and they’re no longer ignoring me, I guess, ignoring the situation. I’m happy that they’re willing to work.”
Twinkie is an indoor pet. When she grows into adulthood, she will measure about 12 inches tall and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio