Palm Beach County family battling homeowner's association over pet pig

Both sides have retained legal counsel

SUBURBAN LAKE WORTH, Fla. - A pet or a problem? A legal battle is brewing over a Palm Beach County family's choice of pet.  The family's homeowner's association is cracking down on a pot-bellied pig named 'Wilbur'.

Wilbur may not seem too controversial. But in the suburban Lake Worth community of Cypress Woods, he is. The one year old, 65 lb. pot-bellied pig is at the center of a brewing legal battle between his owners and their homeowner's association.

"I didn't know it was a problem until we got a violation letter," said Rori Halpern, Wilber's owner. "I didn't want this to happen. I didn't want to break any rules," she said.

Halpern said her HOA is trying to force Wilbur out. "I will fight, fight, fight with everything I have to keep this animal here." She's fighting so hard, she said, because of what Wilbur means to her two kids.

Documents indicate that both have been previously diagnosed with ADHD and one of them with Asperger Syndrome.

Halpern has even had Wilbur trained and registered in a Animal Assisted Therapy program at the Humane Society of Broward County.

"He helps them. He really does," she said. "He helps them come out of their shell."

Cypress Woods' rules clearly state "only common household pets" - no livestock - are allowed in the community.

Though Palm Beach County commissioners voted to no longer consider pot-bellied pigs as 'livestock', they decided that it would be up to an HOA to outlaw the pigs as pets.

"A pot-bellied pig is not a common animal, but it's a lot more common than you think," said Halpern.

Lawyers representing the HOA and Banyan Property Management said in a statement that they are trying to verify the medical conditions of the Halpern children as well as to verify whether Wilbur qualifies as a service or emotional support animal.

Mrs. Halpern said she has already provided adequate documentation and that the HOA rules never specifically mention pot-bellied pigs.

"There's no way I'm giving him up," she said. The Halperns said they do not want live without their pet pig but can not afford to move if the HOA and lawyers decide he has to go.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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