Pig

Pumpkin the pig wears a frock while taking a nap. Her owner is fighting to change a Virginia Beach law that bans pet pigs.

The knock on Dani Guill’s door came in early May. It was a zoning compliance officer, there to investigate a complaint from a neighbor. Word was that a pig lived in her Virginia Beach, Va., house, he told her.

He wasn’t wrong. In fact, 3-year-old, 120-pound Pumpkin has her own bedroom and wardrobe. She loves Honey Nut Cheerios and acts grumpy when she doesn’t get as much as she wants.

But unlike Guill’s dog, Pumpkin is not allowed to reside in Virginia Beach. City law views her as livestock, though she is a potbellied pig bred to be a pet. Guill said the officer gave her 30 days to relocate the pig.

The eviction is now on hold as two city council members, at Guill’s urging, draft a proposal to legalize Pumpkin and other pet pigs in the city. Guill said seven other owners have surfaced since she took up the cause. “Out of the woodwork, here come all the other pig parents,” she said.

It’s hardly an unusual municipal matter. Across the nation, pet pig owners are forcing cities and towns to grapple with the definition of swine and reassess zoning laws written in eras when the divide between pets and farm animals was far starker.

In the past year, pet pig legalization has been on the agenda in Holland, Mich.; Brookhaven, Ga.; and Chatfield, Minn. — all of which decided to allow pigs. In Amherst, N.Y., and Eureka Springs, Ark., officials did the opposite, upholding bans and calling for the ouster of outlaw pigs. Officials in other places are still mulling what to do.

“This is a growing concern. . . . It’s hitting councils all over the country,” said Mickey Schneider, a Eureka Springs alderwoman who pushed to change local law so that two potbellies in the Ozarks tourist town could stay.

The animals have not been expelled, and Schneider said she’s still trying. “These pigs are not stinky. And they are very friendly. And they are cute.”