Watch above: The dispute between a Sherwood Park pet owner and Strathcona County is heating up. The two parties are set to meet this week in court. As Shallima Maharaj reports, both sides remain firm on where they stand.
EDMONTON — A Sherwood Park woman is preparing to head to court this week, as her fight to keep her pet pig continues.
Michelle Kropp has been battling with Strathcona County for months over her four-year-old pot-bellied pig Eli. Under county bylaw, the animal is considered livestock and not allowed to be housed in an urban setting.
Kropp says Eli is a trained therapy animal and is more than just a pet – he’s part of the family.
“If all he’s done wrong is be a pot-bellied pig it’s really hard for me to explain to my daughters and even rationalize to myself that there’s something wrong with that,” said Kropp. “Eli isn’t livestock.”
In June, Kropp was issued a violation ticket for breaking the bylaw, to which she pled not guilty.
A couple of days later, Kropp was issued a notice to appear in provincial court, where the county will be making an application for an order to have Eli relocated from her home.
“We don’t understand why he has to go,” said Kropp.
The county says while it empathizes with Kropp and her family, it can’t make exceptions. The county remains hopeful, though, that the family will voluntarily relocate the pig prior to the court proceedings.
“Strathcona County has found no examples of surrounding municipalities that issue special permits to house pigs in urban centres,” the county’s website reads.
“As a specialized municipality we do allow areas in our community where pigs can be kept and we are hopeful that the family will decide to relocate the pig to a rural centre where it is permitted,” added David Churchill, manager of Public Works with Strathcona County.
Kropp says she doesn’t believe she should have to move Eli away from her family, and moving is not an option.
“We just moved into this home a year ago, we have a great school,” she said. “We have great neighbours… we don’t want to go anywhere.”
“I don’t want to have to give away my pig,” said Kropp’s 11-year-old step-daughter Jayme Granberg. “He’s part of our family… he’s happy here.”
While some community members have voiced concerns with the pig, Kropp and her family have started a online petition to keep Eli where he is. The petition has collected more than 15,000 signatures.
Kropp’s appearance for the order application has been scheduled for later this week, at which point the county believes a court date will be set for early 2015 for the application to be heard.
With files from Shallima Maharaj, Global News.