Council authorizes draft of law after resident asks to keep pot-bellied animal in city
Port Washington resident Becky Casarez was halfway to hog heaven Tuesday night after the Common Council authorized City Attorney Eric Eberhardt to draw up an ordinance that would allow her to have a pot-bellied pig as a pet.
“Thank you,” Casarez told aldermen. “Pigs are great. They’re really lovable, caring and a great pet.”
Casarez, who lives at 126 Woodruff St., asked aldermen in June to consider allowing pot-bellied pigs just as they currently permit dogs and cats.
She had considered getting a more traditional pet, she said then, but she is allergic to cats and hasn’t found a dog she likes.
But when a friend told her about potbelly pigs, she knew she had found the pet for her.
Port Washington officials wouldn’t be the first in the area to allow pot-bellied pigs to be kept as pets if they pass the proposed ordinance.
City Administrator Mark Grams noted that the Village of Grafton allows residents to have one Vietnamese pot-bellied pig as a pet.
Just as with dogs and cats, the animals need to be kept on a leash in public and their owners must clean up after them, he said.
“The only problem they had was a couple of residents trying to pass off some other kinds of pot-bellied pigs for Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs,” Grams said.
Noting that the city allows residents to have two dogs and two cats, Ald. Kevin Rudser questioned why it would limit the number of pigs to one.
“Is there any reason we would not allow two pigs?” he asked. “They might like a friend.”
Grams said he suggested it so officials could determine if there were any issues surrounding pot-bellied pigs.
“You might want to take it slow,” he said.
Ald. Bill Driscoll said he asked his sister-in-law, who has had two pot-bellied pigs as pets, what negatives there are in keeping the animals.
“She said ‘I can’t think of a single one. In every way, they’re as good or better than a dog,’” Driscoll said. “She said they’re cleaner and easier to train.”
She also recommended the city allow a maximum two pigs per household and that it prohibit breeding the animals, he said.
Only Ald. Doug Biggs voted against the move, saying he had serious concerns about spending taxpayer money to allow one person to obtain the pet they desired.
Biggs, a member of the city’s Finance and License Committee, estimated the cost of drawing up and implementing an ordinance to be between $1,500 and $2,000.
“We’re going to be spending taxpayer money for effectively one person. That seems fiscally irresponsible,” he said.
While Biggs said he “didn’t care one way or the other” about whether pot-bellied pigs should be allowed as pets, he noted that there wasn’t a hue and cry for the measure.
Driscoll asked if the city could eliminate some of the cost by approving the measure when it recodifies its ordinances, but Eberhardt noted that process won’t be completed until spring or summer.
“Let’s just get it done,” Rudser said.
Eberhardt told aldermen he would present an ordinance with a “Whitman’s sampler” of conditions to keep pot-bellied pigs. Officials can decide when they initially review the document which of these rules they want to keep.
The city is expected to consider the ordinance before the end of the year.
Casarez said she is determined to get a unanimous decision in her favor.
“Ald. Biggs, I will win you over,” she said. “I am determined.”
This is the third time in the past four years that aldermen have been asked to allow an unusual animal in the city.
In 2012, they approved beekeeping in the city and in 2013 they turned down a request to allow chickens in the community.
Image information: PORT WASHINGTON OFFICIALS agreed Tuesday to consider allowing residents to have a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, a decision prompted by one woman’s quest for a pet.