The normally reserved, businesslike board first heard the proposal Sept. 12 and appeared to be generally in favor of allowing smaller breeds of pigs as pets within the town, but got bogged down over registration, licensing procedures and enforcement, weight limits and the number of pigs allowable in any one home.
When they discussed the issue again last week, some members of the crowd — and the board — just couldn’t hold back guffaws any longer, probably due to the rarity, novelty and adorability of these animals that are still most often associated with food.
In the past, animal control ordinances across the country considered pigs as livestock — because they were; the trend of keeping smaller breeds of pigs in one’s home as a pet is relatively recent.
But as popularity of the porcine pals continues to grow — the North American Pet Pig Association has only been around since 1989 — municipalities have had to address the issue and its ensuing consequences.
A draft ordinance presented by Town Manager Jason Burrell says that “any member of the dwarf breed of pig known as Vietnamese potbellied pigs (Susscrofa bittatus)” that was being housed as a pet “and not kept or raised for human consumption” would be allowable, provided that that no more than two pigs were kept in the same home, that they grow to no more than 22 inches in height and that they do not exceed 100 pounds in weight.
Other restrictions similar to those of dogs (becoming a nuisance, improper disposal of waste or leash requirements) would also apply.
Regarding a possible weight limit for the pigs, members of the board asked Burrell who would enforce it, and how.
“I’d have no problem weighing a pig,” said the burly Burrell.
Burrell presented the board with a wealth of information on how other towns handle the porky pets and said he’d also seen a weight limit of 65 pounds in some of them, but Alderman Zeb Smathers opened up another line of thinking when he noted that the town doesn’t register any other animals.
The meeting ended with no action being taken, but members of the town have long been receptive to public input; contact the Canton Town Board about pigs as pets at www.cantonnc.com/mayor-board-alderman.