Twinkie The Pig Prescribed a Permanent Home

Categories: Broward News

The Daily
Cute Overload: Twinkie and Kason.
Update February 4, 2013: Heather Ray disputes Goehrig's version of events. She contends that she first wrote e-mails to the city announcing her intention to get a therapy pig, and the city told her it was not allowed. She claims she then researched the Americans with Disabilities Act and spoke to representatives at the Department of Justice who told her the city would need to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

Believing that federal law was on her side, Ray bought the pig and wrote letters to commissioners letting them know. It was, then, she says, that a Sun-Sentinel reporter contacted her; the resulting article was followed by scores of other media calls. Ray says the city then told her it would allow the pig, but required her to first get a prescription for therapy animal, then return to the doctor for another script that specified the animal needed to be a hypoallergenic pig.

Ray says the city wanted even more documentation -- such as her husband's allergy tests that would prove a cat or dog would not suffice -- but the allergist said that no pig-allergy tests existed and invoked HIPAA laws. Ray says she then told the city that if it did not give her a waiver, she would file a formal complaint with the Department of Justice, and that within the month, she got her waiver. As of February, Ray reports that the pig and her son are both faring well. The pig is six pounds (could grow to 20) and uses a litter box.

Original story published January 24, 2013: In a coup for pigs, vegans and emotional support animals everywhere the Coral Springs will allow the Ray family to keep Twinkie the pygmy pig thanks to a doctor's prescription for a therapy animal for their son Kason, who has Down syndrome.

The story exploded in the international media in late 2012 when the city attorney ruled the family couldn't keep Twinkie due to a law that categorized pigs as livestock. Without the city's approval the Rays could have been fined up to $500 per day for keeping the pig.

It's unclear if this latest ruling will pave the way for municipalities to accept any variety of animals doctors prescribed for emotional support. Coral Springs spokesperson Bob Goehrig and the city attorney's office didn't return phone calls as to why they made the exception. If anyone wants to go smaller we suggest a ferret. If you're looking for larger, stick with the duckbilled platypus. Just be prepared to drop some serious coin on a semiaquatic, fresh-water habitat.

Before buying Twinkie, Ray approached city officials asking if her son could own a pig and was told it was against code. The family sought a pig because Kason's father is severely allergic to dogs and cats, and the miniature pigs are hypoallergenic.

She bought the pig anyway and soon launched a petition against Coral Springs' anti-pig rules and the story was picked up by the Huffington Post, the Daily News and in Britain's Daily Mail.

"We never told her she couldn't have the pig," city Spokesperson Bob Goehrig told the New Times. "And we never knew she even had a pig until she told us. She came to us. We never knew. Then she bought one and called the newspapers. I don't get it."

Looking at pictures of Twinkie it's pretty easy to at least understand why the pig doesn't qualify as livestock. She can't weigh more than 10 pounds, a common weight for the pork shoulders that are slow roasted for your pulled pork tacos or sandwiches.

Lets just hope the pig doesn't end up on any voter rolls in the next election.

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