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Council allows residents to keep pot-bellied pigs

By Staff | Jul 26, 2010

Petunia the pot-bellied pig is safe from exile after the Cape Coral City Council voted 8-0 to exempt her from a city ordinance.
Cape Coral residents James and Susan Toboll petitioned council Monday asking that Petunia not be removed from the city based on a 2008 ordinance. The Tobolls requested that council either grandfather Petunia in or classify her as a domestic animal.
Council’s decision “grandfathers-in” pot-bellied pigs owned by residents prior to the enactment of the 2008 ordinance.
“We’ve been given notice that we have to get rid of her because of a change of code,” said James Toboll. “We have raised her since she was three weeks old and we love her very much, she is part of our family.”
So far, the Toboll family has owned 150-pound Petunia for the last 4 1/2 years.
“I never thought I would have a problem because she is considered a domestic pig and back when we got her there was no code saying we couldn’t have her,” he said.
He added that pot-bellied pigs are housebroken, clean, intelligent and caring. Sometimes, Petunia even cuddles up with the family dog named Spike. For weeks, Toboll has been collecting signatures to petition council.
“We’ve got hundreds of signatures to keep Petunia and there have been no complaints about her,” he said.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said he is hesitant to rewrite the ordinance because it could open the door to other agricultural animals being permitted in residential neighborhoods. Before serving on council, McGrail said he had a personal issue with a neighbor owning chickens.
“I was very active, as a citizen, working with former Councilman Tim Day to craft that ordinance, because of the issue we were living with in Cape Coral,” said McGrail. “The problem is we made a decision back then to delineate between agricultural lands and neighborhoods.”
Councilmember Bill Deile said he wants to find out how other communities handled pot-bellied pigs in residential areas, especially whether they are required to be neutered, spayed, receive vaccinations or health examinations.
He also said he wanted proof of residency for pigs prior to the July 2008 ordinance.
Pig ownership hasn’t proved problematic for city residents. Frank Cassidy, code compliance division manager for the city of Cape Coral, said no complaints have been filed on pigs freely roaming the city.