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 teh Department of Justice, and that within the month, she got her waiver. 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 December 10, 2012: The story had every ingredient for a viral web hit: an outraged mother, a boy with Down syndrome, some feckless city bureaucrats, and one extremely cute pygmy pig. So it's no surprise that after the Sun Sentinel broke the news, the media pounced. The City of Coral Springs wouldn't allow Heather Ray's son, Kason, to have a pig named Twinkie because of a law against pet swine. Ray said she needed the pig as a therapy animal for the boy because both he and her husband are allergic to dogs.
The story exploded. CNN, The Huffington Post and The Daily News did stories last week, and soon the news reached Europe in Britain's Daily Mail. Hundreds of commenters trashed the town.
But one part never made it into print:More »