WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Yoda the potbellied pig on Tuesday was transformed from a Palm Beach County code violation into a porcine pet trailblazer.
The same pig that prompted a neighbor's complaint nine months ago inspired Palm Beach County commissioners to lift a prohibition on keeping potbellied pigs as pets in urban and suburban areas.
No longer considered livestock or pets just in rural areas, potbellied pigs can now take their place in neighborhoods alongside dogs and cats — at least for the next three years.
"One giant step for pig kind," Yoda's owner Jennifer San Filippo said. "I'm ecstatic."
The County Commission finally approved the rule change after months of delays prompted by concerns about the potential noise, smells and even diseases that could come from allowing pigs as pets outside of rural areas.
But County Commission Chairwoman Shelley Vana pushed for the rule change, arguing that people should be able to keep their pets and that pigs brought no more problems than other animals.
She supported the three-year test period as a way to gauge whether there is a surge in neighbor pig complaints or an influx pigs at the county's animal shelter.
"It's time that we stopped saying, 'No,'" Vana said.
The county rule change for potbellied pigs in urban areas comes with regulations similar to those in place for dogs and cats:
There will be an annual $15 licensing fee.
They must be sterilized and have identification microchips implanted.
They are limited to two per household and only in single-family, detached homes.
Homeowners associations can outlaw them as pets.
Leashes are required when taking them for a walk.
Cities have their own rules and can opt to exclude potbellied pigs.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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