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Wausau considers pet pig ordinance

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — On Monday, members of the city’s public health and safety committee will consider a proposed ordinance to allow “miniature” pet pigs within city limits, an issue brought forth by a Wausau resident.

The committee first reviewed the subject in September but took no action. Instead, members asked staff to research and explore the possibility of allowing such animals within city limits in the future. Statewide, only a handful of cities currently allow pet pigs including Port Washington, Waukesha and Green Bay. The animals are currently illegal to own in Wausau.

The proposed ordinance would create a licensing procedure and associated fees and would allow for an inspection process to ensure the pig is less than 200 pounds and is being cared for and does not disturb the neighborhood.

If the proposal is approved by the full council, a household in a single- or two-family residential district would be limited to one pig and would be required to obtain a $35 annual permit. Rabies vaccinations for pigs are not required under state law.

The committee will also consider whether miniature pigs should be allowed within city parks and whether pet owners can apply for a pet fancier permit where a pig would put the home over the city’s dog and cat limitation. Members will also discuss whether microchipping should be a requirement and whether to require outdoor housing be at least 10 feet from the property line and at least 25 feet from a home on adjacent property.

Supporters of the ordinance say the rules allow for municipal control over animals already living within Wausau’s borders. Ashley Bishop, the city’s humane officer, told the committee in September that she has already received reports of the animals living in Wausau without being licensed.

But animal advocates say there’s no such thing as a “miniature pig.” Many potbellied pigs are passed off as teacup pigs by breeding runts over several generations and — according to the Pig Placement Network — lying to their customers. Melissa Susko, executive director of PIGS Animal Sanctuary, said this works because pigs can breed as early as six weeks of age. Breeders then point to a piglet’s parents to show how tiny they are.

Under the proposed ordinance, a miniature pig is defined as one that weighs no more than 200 pounds and is no more than 24 inches tall at the shoulder.

In September, Becky McElhaney, who represents Dist. 6 in Wausau, said that although she is an animal lover herself she recognizes that many residents will be opposed to allowing barnyard animals within city limits. Before chickens were allowed in Wausau, some residents expressed concern that allowing fowl would ultimately lead to goats, pigs, or other animals not typically suited for city life.

Monday’s meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 407 Grant St., Wausau.

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