Friday, March 1, 2024

When your neighbors are literally pigs: Carolina Beach could ban pot-bellied pets

Pigs of most types are prohibited in the Town of Carolina Beach, but the miniature Vietnamese pig is currently permitted --- but that could soon be changing.

CAROLINA BEACH — When someone says the phrase, “My neighbors are pigs,” usually it means there are some messy people living next door — but in Carolina Beach, it could mean you are literally living next to pigs.

Recently, it has come to the attention of town staff that a resident has been keeping pigs on their property despite a town ordinance prohibiting most, but not all, types of swine. The town became aware of the situation after receiving a resident complaint about the situation.

According to the town’s code, section 4-5,  “It shall be unlawful to keep, maintain or enclose hogs, swine, horses, cattle or any other animal not defined as a commonly accepted domestic animal within the corporate limits.”

However, there is one seemingly odd exception to the pig prohibition. The town does allow so-called commonly accepted domestic animals.

According to the town’s definition, “Commonly accepted domestic animal or fowl means any animal and/or fowl which can be kept or harbored within or outside a residential dwelling and which requires reasonable and minimal attention and/or maintenance and shall include generally accepted animals and fowl such as dogs, cats, caged birds, rabbits, miniature Vietnamese pigs, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, hens, and other animals and fowl of similar size and type and generally accepted reptiles such turtles and small nonpoisonous lizards.”

The pigs in question, two shown in photos from code enforcement officer Joe Hutcherson to Assistant Planning Director Jeremey Hardison do not appear to be miniature and their nationality is unknown — but what exactly is a miniature Vietnamese pig, anyway?

The mini-pig myth

As it turns out, the term miniature when used in describing pigs is somewhat misleading.

According to an article from the North American Pet Pig Association, “Unfortunately, the use of the word miniature has been misinterpreted since the beginning of the potbellied pig revolution. What I mean by miniature is that compared to a commercial hog a potbellied pig is much, much smaller. A three-year-old commercial sow will weigh as much as eight hundred pounds. Compare this to a three-year-old potbellied sow weighing ninety pounds potbellied pigs are naturally small.”

So while the resident’s pigs might not be what most people think of when they think of a miniature pig, they are significantly smaller than their farm animal cousins.

As far as the Vietnamese aspect of the name, it simply refers to a pot-bellied pig.

“Current belief is that the average purebred (not crossbred), healthy, mature, three-year-old potbellied pig can weigh from 60 to 175 pounds and measure from 13 to 26 inches in height, with the length being proportional to the height,” according to the article.

So despite not being what most people would think of when they hear the term mini-pig, the swine in question were Vietnamese miniature pigs.

The fate of the pigs

What will become of the pet pigs living in Carolina Beach? Well, as it turns out the tenant who owns the pigs is already planning on moving out so the situation will resolve itself.

Hardison said the town is also discussing an outright pig prohibition and the issue will likely come before town council in April.

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