MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio - Crystal Rosa and her miniature pig Dottie arrived early at Mayfield Heights City Hall Monday night.
The life-long resident and her pretty pink pet were invited to appear and address council members.
Crystal’s fighting to keep Dottie and several other miniature pet pigs at her home, but needs council to change the language in an ordinance.
“I’m nervous,” said Crystal, “I’m hoping they see everything that I do.”
For 5 years Crystal says, she’s walked her pigs throughout the neighborhood and taken them to parades without any problems or complaints.
But a few weeks ago, a city worker saw the pint-sized piggies in Crystal's fenced-in backyard and reported them to animal control.
Unbeknownst to Crystal, pigs are considered livestock and prohibited in Mayfield Heights.
“People think a pig is a pig is a pig; they’re not,” said Crystal, “I mean you can train them as easy as a dog, sometimes even easier.”
Miniature pigs are relatively new. Developed by researchers, the tiny teacup pigs began growing in popularity as pets during the 1980s.
A full-grown adult will often weigh anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds, but solidly built, stand only as tall as a small dog: between 15 and 19 inches.
At the meeting, Crystal passed out informational booklets and told council miniature pigs are extremely smart, exceptionally clean and incredibly loving; traits clearly displayed by Dottie as she curled up in her owner's arms like a baby.
“They love to be cuddled; they love that closeness.”
Seemingly unmoved by the display, Law Director Paul Murphy pointed out that the issue is with the ordinance. He said many cities and even the state classify pigs as swine and all swine as livestock.
“I just want to clarify, you’re not being singled out for any reason,” said Director Murphy, “Just violating these ordinances.”
But Crystal says the local ordinance was written in the 1950s before miniature pigs existed.
And she says, the state law defines livestock including pigs or “porcine animals” as “animals that are raised for human food products or fiber.”
Crystal says her little darlings absolutely are not being raised for food and are no different than a dog, cat or any other pet.
And others clearly agree. Crystal has received thousands of signatures on a petition on Facebook and a couple showed up at the meeting to speak on her behalf.
One man said he was “appalled” by council's actions and a woman said she’s seen dogs maul other dogs but Crystal's pigs are always sweet and friendly.
“I’ve seen better things come out of them walking down the street and kids run up to them hugging them and kissing them,” said the woman.
After the meeting, council went into executive session to consider all matters presented at the meeting. There was no word as to when a decision regarding Crystal's pigs will be rendered. Crystal says regardless of what they decide she plans to keep fighting even if she has to petition the state for change.
“I’m not giving up. That's for sure,” said Crystal.