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Pigs and Their People Turn Out for Pet Cause at City Hall Protest

July 11, 1998|ROBERTO J. MANZANO

About a dozen potbellied pigs--oinking, squealing and grunting in delight--and their owners and supporters marched on City Hall on Friday, with the people demanding that residents be allowed to keep the animals as pets.

They also came to show their support for a west Anaheim woman who may lose her 5-year-old potbellied pig, Mu Shu.

"It's really difficult to lose a part of your family. They make themselves a part of your family," said Mu Shu's owner, Cher Houston. City officials recently told Houston that her 150-pound pet must go, after receiving a complaint from a neighbor about the pig's smell.

City law prohibits farm animals, including pigs, from properties smaller than 1 acre, said John Poole, Anaheim code enforcement manager. The ordinance is meant to protect public safety, he said.

But Houston said she plans to fight the law. "These are to farm animals like Mickey Mouse is to vermin," Houston, 38, argued.

Houston said she plans to ask the City Council at its meeting Tuesday to modify the law. She said residents should be allowed to keep potbellied pigs as pets, as long as the animals are vaccinated regularly.

City Councilman Bob Zemel said he was open to Houston's suggestions, but that the present law should be followed.

Across from City Hall, surrounded by TV and radio crews and even a media helicopter, pig owners could only sing praises about their pets.

"He's very protective and loyal of me," Cindy Halloway of Pig Pals said of her 4-year-old, 110-pound pig, Pinky Lee.

Halloway said her pigs once came squealing to her door to alert her after an elderly man collapsed and went into seizures in front of her house.

Kelley Moon of Azusa said that potbellied pigs are clean and quiet and are not bred for consumption. Moon said she works with two sanctuaries for abandoned pigs: Camp Oink and Little Orphan Hammies.

She said that people should keep them as pets, but should not buy them on impulse and overfeed them.

"Then I get calls from people who say, 'I have this really nasty, fat pig with an attitude and I have to get rid of him,' " Moon, 46, said.

The pigs were mainly peaceful protesters, except for Daisy, who bit a radio show host on a finger.

"She nipped at him because she was kind of scared. It's really unusual for her to do that," explained her owner, Sandy Valdez, 44, of Orange. The host's minor wound was treated at the scene with a Band-Aid.

Yet the majority of pigs lived up to their squeaky-clean image.

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