CATHEDRAL CITY – Teacup puppies tucked inside a Kate Spade handbag are so last decade. They have been tossed aside for the trendy mini pet pigs whose photos are filling up social media accounts as they sport birthday hats, stocking caps, cowboy hats, galoshes and more.
Since 1998, the number of “mini-pigs”—a universal term that is used as umbrella to include just about any small-breed pig—in the United States and Canada has soared from 200,000 to perhaps as many as a million., according to National Geographic.
Now, the mini critters’ owners are demanding equality in Cathedral City where dogs and cats are allowed but not mini pet pigs.
It is currently unlawful to keep any pig, hog, sheep, bull, stallion, and a host of other critters in the city except in a residential estates zone, which is designed to promote and preserve an open, rural environment on large parcels of land. You can read the current zoning ordinance here.
As cities across the country are revamping zoning laws and municipal ordinances, Cathedral City could be next.
At least one resident, Samantha Arruda, has approached Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis asking if there is some way to allow her mini pigs in the city. You can see her pet’s photos here.
“Staff did some research,” Pettis told Uken Report. “(It) will require an ordinance change. It is on the Study Session Agenda to see if there is a desire to make such a change and to allow resident(s) the opportunity to address the City Council.
The City Council is scheduled to study the issue at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25 in the City Council Chambers. There will be ample time for public comments with each speaker limited to 3 minutes. Normally, no action is taken on Study Session items; however, the City Council reserves the right to give specific policy direction and take specific action as necessary.
Arruda already has at least one advocate in her corner – Dr. David Jeffrey, a veterinarian at Village Park Animal Hospital in La Quinta. In a letter to the City Council, Jeffrey explained that while he works with the usual cats and dogs, he is one of a handful of veterinarians in the area that also works with pet pigs.
Poor things have gotten a bad reputation for being dirty and smelly and, well, downright pigs. But not so fast, Jeffrey contends.
“In my experience pigs make wonderful pets as they are intelligent, affectionate, and highly trainable,” Jeffrey told councilmembers. “There is logically no reason that a pig can’t be kept as a family pet just like your typical family dog. Many of my clients successfully do so on both large and small properties.”
Jeffrey claims that pigs are typically not any noisier than a typical domestic species and are far less disruptive to neighbors than a loud barking dog.
While keeping large numbers of pigs can certainly cause a distinctive odor due to the large amount of feces produced on a farm environment, keeping one or two domestic pigs will not produce any more odor than keeping a pair of dogs, Jeffrey maintains.
He added that pigs can be stubborn but they are not overtly aggressive and a full-grown pig is less dangerous than a large breed dog if provoked. Pigs also do not pose any more of a disease risk than any number of other domestic species.
“I have personally examined pigs from the Arruda family and they are well looked after,” Jeffrey told councilors. “The owners are knowledgeable and well-educated on pig ownership and follow my recommendations for sterilization and preventative care.”
Jeffrey argues that there is no rational justification to restrict mini pet pigs in the city of Cathedral City.
The average mini pig is 12 to 18 inches long and weighs between 50 and 150 pounds, according to The American Mini Pig Association (AMPA).
More than 200 cities across the United States and Canada have approved zoning ordinances that allow mini pigs along with dogs and cats. Some of those cities include Kansas City, Mo.; Fort Worth, Texas; Seattle, Wash.; Omaha, Neb., Phoenix, Ariz., Newton, Iowa; and Maui County, Hawaii.