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Safety Harbor says residents may keep pigs

Vietnamese potbelly pigs can live in the city's neighborhoods, the City Commission decided Monday night.

The preliminary decision came after commissioners spent an hour discussing everything about the trendy upscale pets, from rooting to reproductive habits.

Commissioner Kathleen Bambery was concerned that they might root their way out of one back yard and into another.

Commissioner George Costage was worried about mud puddles in the city's back yards.

Commissioner Daniel Pohto didn't see why they should be treated any differently from dogs and cats.

And Commissioner Linda Adkins wanted to regulate all exotic animals and if that isn't possible, stipulate everything about the pigs' environment, from the cleanliness of their cage and length of their leash to having female pigs spayed because she had heard they tend to get aggressive when in heat. That's where Bambery drew the line.

"I don't want to get ridiculous here," she said. "If I want to give my pet the right to reproduce . . ."

"So males have no reproductive rights, but female pigs do?" Adkins asked.

The ordinance the commissioners were considering at the time and eventually approved stipulated that male pigs had to be neutered.

After all the discussion, commissioners hammered out an ordinance that everyone except for Adkins, who was the sole vote against it, could live with. It allows potbelly pigs, which have been excluded from parcels smaller than 1\ acres, if they meet these requirements.

Only one pig per household.

No breeding allowed.

Male pigs older than a month old must be neutered.

They can't be any heavier than 100 pounds.

They must be vaccinated.

Their wastes must be cleaned up and their cages sanitized daily.

They have to be kept on a leash when off their owner's property and if they are outside they must be kept in an enclosure that is separate from a fence that surrounds the yard.

The ordinance will be brought back before the commission for a second and final vote later.

"I would like to compliment everybody for handing this in a refined manner," Mayor Art Levine said after the discussion, which had sometimes prompted a few giggles from the audience.

The commission meeting had few spectators compared with a meeting last fall when the issue first came up and the chamber was packed with both pro- and anti-pig people.

The owners of a potbelly pig named Tina came to the commission then to ask it to revise its rules.

At that meeting a deputy kept watch at the door to make sure no pig owners brought their animals into the meeting.

Neither Tina nor any other pigs attended Monday's calmer meeting. Tina's neighbors say her owners no longer have her. The owners could not be reached for comment.

But Levine said the new pig ordinance will not be for naught. Other pigs in Safety Harbor will benefit, he said. He said there were five to 15 at last estimate.