A Florida family is going against their Home Owners Association to keep their unique and cherished pet.
Wilbur, a 65-pound potbellied pig, has been the subject of a six month legal battle between the Halpern family in Lake Worth and the Cypress Woods Home Owner’s Association.
Wilbur is a certified emotional support animal for Rori Halpern’s children. Both young boys have ADHD and one has Asperger’s syndrome, and Halpern says that the boys took to the pig’s gentle disposition right away.
Halpern also is a trained handler and visits assisted living facilities and schools with Wilbur to participate in animal therapy.
The family adopted Wilbur as a two-pound, five-week-old piglet and he’s since been house-trained, neutered and micro-chipped.He sits in the living room with his family and often sleeps in bed with her Halpern’s sons.
Halpern researched for a year before deciding to adopt Wilbur, and didn’t go through with it until she found that keeping potbellied pigs as house pets was completely legal.
Wilbur’s status as part of the family was threatened when the Cypress Woods Home Owner’s Association delivered a notice that the pig on the Halpern’s property needed to be removed.
In addition to claiming Wilbur violates livestock restriction rules, The HOA is questioning the validity of a pig as an emotional support animal and asking why the Halperns didn’t have one of their pet dogs certified instead.
Keith Backer, the lawyer on behalf of the HOA, says that the HOA is not against pigs but needs to enforce it’s rules, and is demanding that the Halperns prove that the pig is a medical necessity.
Palm Beach County Commissioners categorized potbellied pigs as pets instead of livestock in 2012, but county rules also state that HOAs can make their own decisions about pigs.
A similar battle citing feed restrictions for livestock happened in Texas in 2012, and the family ultimately won the fight to keep their pet pig. The attorney in that case argued that the HOA’s distinction between pets and livestock was outdated and that potbellied pigs are raised to be companions, and the judge sided with his argument.
For now, the Halperns continue the legal fight to keep Wilbur, and are introducing him to neighbors and considering informational meet-and-greets so the rest of the neighborhood can understand their special pet.