Hammy is a 200-lb pig who has been deemed an emotional support animal by Alberta Health Services. Hammy’s owner credits the “pet” with saving her life.
“Either I get a pig or I’m going to die,” Alexandrea Comstock recalls saying to herself after attempting suicide five years ago.
Comstock suffers from muscular dystrophy (MD), which is a disease that weakens the body’s muscles.
Growing up, her body didn’t look like those of her schoolmates. Comstock says she was a victim of bullying, which started in Grade 7 and followed her into her high school years, until one day she couldn’t take it anymore.
“I just tried to kill myself,” Comstock said. “I swallowed a ton of pills and I ended up in the hospital and it was just awful, it was the most pain I’ve ever been in, in my life.”
Comstock’s passion for pigs started at a young age and after being released from the hospital, she decided to buy one.
That’s when she says the suicidal thoughts disappeared.
“Some people have the gym that can do that, some people have running that can do that, but for me, I’m a little bit weird: it’s a pig.”
Hammy is not a designated service animal, but Comstock said when her therapist saw the comfort the pig was providing, Alberta Health Services provided her with a letter, declaring the pig an emotional support animal. Comstock was then released from treatment.
“Their job was done because Hammy can do the rest,” Comstock said.
There is a Lethbridge city bylaw stating that livestock cannot be kept as pets. Bylaw officials told Global News they are aware of Hammy, but would only investigate if a legitimate complaint was filed against her. They said the bylaw does not currently take into account “emotional support animals” as Hammy has been declared by AHS.
“She’s just not really an issue,” Comstock said. “It was always just brushed off. I never had anyone make a stink about it and if they did, it’s over my dead body…always.”