Kirkman family, Pensacola battles over pot-bellied pig 'Buttercup' and ordinance banning 'livestock'
9:21 AM, Feb 4, 2014
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- The Kirkmans of Pensacola are facing a deadline in deciding what to do about their pet pot-bellied pig named Buttercup.
The pig is in violation of the city of Pensacola's ordinance banning "livestock" within city limits. They've given the family until May to move, get rid of Buttercup or convince the city council to change the ordinance.
David Kirkman, his wife Laura and their children, Molly, 9, and Butch, 7, say Buttercup isn't livestock. They say the 2-year-old pig is a pet they've raised since she was 5 weeks old.
The Pensacola News Journal reports the code enforcement board cited the family in December after receiving an anonymous tip that they were keeping a pig on their property. The ordinance states, "It shall be unlawful to keep any horse, mule, donkey, goat, sheep, hogs and cattle in any stable, shed, pen or enclosure within city limits."
The Kirkmans say Buttercup is a pet, just like their pit-box mix, Muck. And, Laura Kirkman points out, the ordinance refers to "hogs" in the plural. And even though she's 250 pounds, she still just one pig.
"We're not going to eat her and we're not going to sell her," said Molly Kirkman. "She doesn't live on a farm. She sleeps in my room.
The family has talked to council member Sherri Myers, who has agreed to take up the cause.
Myers said she thinks the ordinance is "pretty outdated." She is working to submit a council agenda item that would exclude pot-bellied pigs from the definition of livestock. She thinks they should be classified as domestic animals.
Myers said she recently had an adventure involving a pot-bellied pig that had wandered into a neighbor's yard.
"The whole neighborhood was excited that there was a pot-bellied pig around," Myers said.
The mystery was solved when it was learned a neighbor was pet-sitting the pig for a friend and it wandered off.
"It was kind of exciting for our neighborhood," Myers said.
That's the way it is when people meet Buttercup, the Kirkmans say.
"She's not noisy. She's not smelly, she's not trouble to anyone," Laura Kirkman said. "Most people love her. She's an attraction around here."
She calls the dilemma a teachable moment for her kids.
"They're learning how to handle a problem," she said. "They're learning to do things the right way, and to show respect while they're doing it."