Town of Clay man wages battle to keep a pig in his home

The local zoning law prohibits farm animals for some property owners

TOWN OF CLAY (WSYR-TV) - Pigs are becoming more popular in homes across America - but owning one could lead to a court battle.

A town of Clay man is fighting to keep "Olivia", a pig he says he has owned for a few years.

"I went through depressions. I wanted to kill myself. I went through addictions. She helped. She's always been here...unconditional love," says Michael LeBlanc.

LeBlanc says he was served notice of an "animal violation".

Town leaders did not explain why or supply a copy of the law pertaining to the notice when it was requested by NewsChannel 9.

Town Supervisor Damian Ulatowski would only state, "This matter is currently in our court system and our council has advised not to comment at this time."

A link on the town's website appears to spell out the rules for pet ownership, including this section:

No property or dwelling shall contain more than three adult dogs and three adult cats ("adult" is a dog or cat over six months in age). There is no restriction upon the number of other kinds of domestic animals maintained within a dwelling that are consistently maintained within appropriate containers such as aquariums or birdcages; these animals include, by illustration, tropical fish, exotic birds, ferrets, gerbils and hamsters. No exotic animals harbored outside of such containers or farm animals (see definitions) shall be harbored or maintained as pets.

There is no limit listed in Clay's zoning codes online for the number of farm animals maintained as pets on property of five acres or more.

Click here for the zoning laws supplied on the town's website.

"I don't believe she is a farm animal. I believe a farm animal is something you keep outside, something you are going to eat or you are selling for food, and I'm not doing any of that," LeBlanc says.

Pigs, known for their intelligence, have been the source of debate among animal lovers. Families that are unaware of the challenges of owning a pig may become overwhelmed if they grow larger than expected...leaving many desperate to find new homes.

The issue has led to the creation of many pig rescue groups across the country.

Piglets can cost hundreds of dollars, leading to concerns about proper breeding.

Animal advocates suggest that anyone considering a pig as a pet should do extensive research, including proper care, the potential size of breeds, the reputation of the seller and a review of local zoning laws.

LeBlanc claims he didn't know the animal zoning rules in the Town of Clay when he bought Olivia. She also had multiple piglets in the past, which LeBlanc did list for sale online. Though, he says he would have her spayed if it meant he could keep her.

When he heads to his next court hearing, LeBlanc is hoping to convince the judge that Olivia is like a therapy pet that provides him with emotional support.

Regardless of what happens in his case, LeBlanc is hoping town leaders will consider changing zoning rules for anyone else hoping to buy a pig.

"She's my pet. She's like my kid. I'm going to fight," he adds.

If you have a question for the Your Stories team, give us a call anytime at 446-9900 or email yourstories@LocalSYR.com.


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