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Neighbors Battle Over Pot Belly Pig

A Little Rock woman faces losing her pet pot belly after a neighbor complains to Animal Control.
At Jyll Latham's house, if it looks like a dog and behaves like a dog, it's just as likely to be a pig.

"The neighbors have not taken kindly to him at all," she told FOX16.

Sooie is a Vietnamese pot bell pig.

"He's a family pet and stays inside," she explained.

He likes marshmallows and will sit on command. Despite being a hit on Facebook, he may be high-tailing it out of town.

Animal Control, issuing her a citation. It reads, "You have 7 days to remove your pig from the city, or we will."

The citation came after a complaint from a next door neighbor. Latham moved into her newly-purchased home two months ago, and prior to here she had Sooie while she rented in Little Rock.

"He lived in my townhouse for seven months and nobody had problems with him," she said.

Before buying Sooie and her home, she checked city ordinances, which specifically allow for Vietnamese pot belly pigs.

"I thought we were good. I went to the section regarding pigs, the exception was there," she said. "My advice would be call the director of Animal Control, the mayor, and get something in writing to protect yourself. I thought I was following the rules. Now, I'm looking at this mess."

"You have to go further down to the section," said Director of Neighborhood and Housing Programs Andre Bernard.

According to Bernard, there are additional provisions for hooved animals. or livestock.
 
"You still have to comply with the rest of the ordinance," he said.

That's what Jyll is accused of violating. It requires any hooved animal "in a pen or lot within" to have a 300 foot buffer between where the animal is kept and the nearest neighbor. That's the length of a city block.

"Even a structure a house it's still sits on a lot would still be a violation," Bernard responded to the point that Sooie is an indoor pet. "That would be like having a horse in a house."

"It's a football field," Latham said, regarding the requirement. "There's not 300 feet to my lot to his lot. It's not feasible."

When we asked where someone could possibly live with a pot belly pig and not violate the ordinance, Bernard said there are options.

"There are areas in southwest Little Rock and East Little Rock," he said. "There are places that someone who had to have a pig could have it."

Latham's neighbor, Don Rawls, did not want to be on camera but told us his issue isn't with the animal itself.

"They're smelling bed -- they draw flies," he said of his complaint.

What it leaves behind is what bothers him.

"She won't clean the manure up out of the yard. It smells bad," he said.

That, Bernard said is the reason for the 300-foot boundary in the city.

"To make sure your neighbors have a safe and sanitary place to live," he said. "You don't want the odor from feces or urine to put an undue encroachment on reasonable people."

Latham argues that she follows the 48-hour rule to pick up after both her dogs and Sooie to keep the yard clean.

"People have come over and can't detect a smell," she said. "Including the first Animal Control officer who came to my house and told me I was following the city's rules."

She goes on to add that the animal ordinances distinguish between "pets or livestock".

"We don't own livestock. He is a pet. He doesn't produce food or anything like that," she said. "He's not an issue, he doesn't bark like a dog does, he doesn't cause any problems."

At this point, Latham is slated to appear in court next week. Whether Sooie remains by Latham's side will be up to a city judge.

Latham has started a Facebook page in the fight for to save Sooie, where she documents her experiences. Click here to follow their journey.


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