ZEPHYRHILLS — Owners of miniature pigs may not have to get their animals out of town after all.
For 25 years, a Zephyrhills ordinance has banned "swine" or "pot-bellied pigs" in the city. But City Council members — swayed by pig owners recently cited by code enforcement officers — may change the law.
"You wouldn’t think a pig would be a difficult decision, but it is. It’s somebody’s pet," Council President Lance Smith said during a lengthy debate Monday.
The city estimates it has about 20 miniature pigs held as pets, but has never received a complaint about the animals, City Manager Steve Spina told the council.
Two pig owners recently received citations from city code enforcement officers who saw the animals while conducting unrelated code enforcement investigations, Spina said. City records offer no explanation for the ban that came about in 1993, he said.
The City Council directed staff to write an ordinance allowing pigs under certain parameters. It should require pig owners to report their pets to City Hall and prove through paperwork the pigs’ breed and whether they are spayed or neutered, which members agreed should be mandated.
Pig owners who don’t follow those rules could be cited if the animal is discovered or someone files a complaint.
Proving a pig’s breed is important, Spina said, because the new ordinance likely will limit the allowable size and weight of pigs.
The council reached a consensus, but some members expressed concern that allowing pigs could lead to requests for other animals as pets.
"We are going to eventually be approached by someone saying we are discriminating against donkeys," Mayor Gene Whitfield said.
In other news, the council approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries within the city. They must be located per state statute in areas zoned for pharmacies.