St. Joseph Man Works to Change Pot Belly Pig Law

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 03/19 2014 09:41PM

Updated 03/20 2014 10:02AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Nobody was going to take Gertie the pig away from J.D. Carrel.

"I've had her long enough now, she's part of the family," Carrel said, who has owned the pot belly pig for more than three years. "Would you take your child or grandchild and get rid of it if someone told you to?"

But by keeping Gertie, Carrel was breaking the law. City code said Gertie was livestock and not a pet.

"I've been to court with her on four different occasions," Carrel said. "I was prepared to fight all I had to keep her. It's like fighting for your kids."

Carrel approached city council member Joyce Starr to see what could be done. Carrel had Gerty turn on her charm.

"I've loved her," Starr said. "She was wobbly, and she had that little tail and I thought she was just wonderful."

So a new ordinance was written. On Monday, the city council passed a new law making pot belly pigs legal in St. Joseph.

There's a limit of one pig per household. All pigs must be licensed and spayed or neutered. St. Joseph Animal Control supports the new law.

"They're very intelligent," said Steve Norman from Animal Control. "They're even supposed to be smarter than dogs. A dog is pretty easy to train so pot belly pigs make very trainable pets."

"They're very loyal, very smart," Carrel added. "They're not messy like a lot of people think. She's the cleanest animal I've ever had. She never messes in the house."

And pot belly pigs are great with kids, especially when there's food around.

"We feed carrots to her," said four-year-old Azia Dao, who lives next door.

One stereotype about pigs seems to hold true.

"She knows when she hears food hit her bowl, she's ready," Carrel said.

It's been a long fight for Carrel, but he says it's worth it.

"Now nobody can tell me I can't have Gertie. They can't take her away from me."

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