Many people consider dogs and cats to be pets, but should mini-pigs be considered pets? Reading city leaders are working to answer that question while a petition circulates through town.
The Wonders live in Reading, and they started the petition. They currently own two mini-pigs, Penny and Petey, and consider the animals to be beloved pets alongside their dogs.
According to the family, the mini-pigs eat treats, do tricks and are even potty trained.
"They've been crucial to our family," Heather Wonders said. "I couldn't imagine our life without them."
The Wonders know that not everyone feels the same about the animals, but they said they were still shocked when they learned someone had complained to authorities about Penny and Petey being on their property.
"The [city's] ordinance states no hogs, but our pigs do not fall under that category," Wonders said.
The Reading city code prohibits residents from owning hogs, which are described in the ordinance as being 120 pounds or more. Wonders said that Penny and Petey are mini-pigs, not hogs, and each weigh less than 60 pounds.
However, although the code does not specifically prohibit mini-pigs, it also does not classify them as pets.
Panicked by the thought of losing Penny and Petey, the Wonders launched an online petition that has garnered more than 800 signatures.
"They're not a nuisance. They're not outdoors. They're indoors," Wonders said. "They're your pets. They're your babies, so it's been nothing but support," Wonders said.
On Tuesday, the Wonders went before city council and asked community leaders to re-word the ordinance so that mini-pigs are clearly labeled pets.
City officials said they are open to the idea.
"I think that your mini-pigs should be fine in your house," Tom Lynd, a city council member, said at the meeting.
Some members of council did have some looming questions, particularly related to a recent rule that was put into place following a hoarding case. It limits families to only three dogs per household.
"If your pig is considered to be like a dog, and you have two dogs, and two pigs, now how do we reconcile this desire to limit the number of animals?" Bob Ashbrock, a member of council, asked at the meeting.
While the council works through those questions, the Wonders are wondering if perhaps what happens in Reading could kick start similar initiatives in other neighboring cities.
"Maybe cities will change their ordinances to allow people to experience what it's like to have a pig," Wonders said. "It is a lot of hard work. It's a lot of training, but in the end it's so worth it."
Other than the original complaint about the mini-pigs, no one has come forward opposing the possible ordinance update.
The issue will now go to a council committee. The members will talk it through, and eventually, the council will vote on the issue.
It could be weeks before they make a final decision. Until that happens, council members have told the Wonders that they will not be removing their mini-pigs.
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