Erwin, N.C. — An Erwin family is fighting to keep its pot-bellied pig after the town adopted an ordinance banning swine as pets, but a neighbor said he wants the animal out.
Stormy Suggs, 14, has raised Clover, a a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, almost from the animal's birth.
"If I lose her, it's not only like losing a sister, it's like losing a part of me," Stormy said.
"Just like any dog, any cat, any animal that you might have – any child you might have – she's part of the family," Donald Suggs, Stormy's father, said of Clover.
Erwin joined Coats, Angier and Lillington last year in adopting Harnett County's ordinance pertaining to pets. The law says swine aren't allowed within 200 feet of a home inside town limits.
Suggs said Clover should be grandfathered in under the ordinance, saying the pig's health could suffer if the family is forced to move her.
"The stress will probably kill her," he said.
Last week, the town's Board of Commissioners decided to keep the ordinance intact.
"The bottom line is, we do have an ordinance. The ordinance was passed by the board in the spirit of keeping the best interests of the public in mind,” Erwin Town Manager Bryan Thompson said. "So far as a compromise without any amendments to the ordinance, there's not a whole lot of latitude."
Erwin and Harnett County officials and attorneys plan to meet in the next few days to discuss Clover's future.
"We want to look at what the possibilities are,” Assistant County Manager Tony Wilder said.
Thomas Johnson, who lives next to the Suggs family, said he intends to press officials to stick to the letter of the law.
"I’m going to take this thing legally as far as I have to. I’m not going to live in a hog pen,” Johnson said.
He said the smell from the pig is often unbearable.
"It gets into my house, and it affects my health. I can’t even go to sleep at night without worrying about a disease-laden mosquito,” he said. "The odor will literally burn the hair out of your nose almost."
The Suggs family faces no penalties until officials make a decision. If officials uphold the ordinance, the family could face daily fines for keeping Clover.