EDMONTON – Strathcona County has issued a violation ticket to the owner of Eli the pot bellied pig for breaking the municipality’s Animal Control Bylaw.
Under Strathcona County bylaw, the animal is considered to be swine, which is not allowed to be housed in an urban setting.
“I’m not trying to oppose a bylaw, I think a bylaw is in place for a very good reason – pigs typically shouldn’t live in homes, but Eli is unique,” said Eli’s owner, Michelle Kropp, on June 2.
Kropp argued that Eli is not livestock, but a trained therapy animal.
“He’s worked with Dream Catchers, and he’s been certified as a co-counselor,” she explained.
Kropp is the creator of Hearts and Hooves and has won several awards for her work with therapy animals, including the Global Woman of Vision award.
But an online petition was started by a neighbour to get Eli evicted; nearly three dozen people have signed the letter which reads:
“Potbelly pigs are pigs, which are farm animals that need to live on a farm with other pigs!”
However, several people commented that the move was off base and the family should be able to keep its pet.
Kropp started a petition of her own, which had garnered a few dozen signatures from her neighbours.
“I’ve never heard the pig, smelled the pig, just only when Michelle brought him over and when she lets us know he’s out and we are excited to go see him,” said one neighbour, Tana Currie in June.
At that time, Ian Gray, with Strathcona County’s Transportation and Agriculture Services, said the bylaw doesn’t allow for special permits – something Kropp was hoping for.
He explained the County gets a lot of requests for special permits, and consistency is key.
“You can very well imagine if you’re not consistent in the application of bylaw, where that can lead.”
On Thursday, the county said when it became aware that the pig was living in Sherwood Park, it informed the owner she was violating the bylaw. It said, despite efforts to work with the owner and a three-week grace period to “relocate the pig, the owner did not co-operate.”
Strathcona County says the violation ticket was issued on June 24, and the pig’s owner entered a not-guilty plea in Provincial Court on August 11.
A trial date for the ticket has been set for November 17.
The county says it can also ask the the Court of Queen’s Bench for an order requiring the pig to be relocated. However, the county says it’s hopeful the owner “will choose to comply with the bylaw by voluntarily relocating the pig prior to the Court proceedings.”
This article was originally published on June 2, 2014 and was updated on August 14, 2014.
With files from Quinn Ohler, Global News
© Shaw Media, 2014