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Cobb is Family Rooting for Pig's Return

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
December 13, 2001

Someone turned the heat on Skillet. The tender potbellied pig barely had time to get cozy in his Acworth abode when a neighbor squealed on the boar next door.

County codes don't allow such swine as pets unless they have 2 acres to roam. Skillet was deemed more appropriate for a farm than a family room and was smoked out. With Skillet stuck in a Cherokee County foster home, his owners are struggling to find a way to get him home for Christmas dinner --- as a guest, of course.

"He's a baby," said Stacy Anderson, Skillet's owner. "Our next-door neighbor complained, and they came out and gave us a citation. He's like a dog. He's smart like a dog." This porcine predicament is nothing new.

Potbellied pigs were a fad gone bad in the early 1990s when they fetched a pretty penny. Now, sanctuaries have popped up across the country to house thousands of pathetic porkers looking to be loved. Governments nationwide have struggled to carve ordinances that help hogs find a place alongside dogs and cats, which could be Skillet's only hope.

"Right now we're trying to get a commissioner on our side and re-word the ordinance to allow them as pets," said Victoria Bragg, a representative of the Georgia chapter of the Pigs as Pets Association. "We don't want more than one per household, but we want them to have Skillet back. We don't want to encourage breeding."

Bragg --- who has crusaded across Florida championing the pig-positive message --- remembers the first swine she bought. Oinka Doo set her back $2,000. Today, he'd only be a few bucks.

If she and Anderson can get Skillet's plight on the County Commission agenda, she plans to bring a swine to the meeting to show bureaucrats that these are cuddly creatures and not potential for a sandwich. "I've been up against commissioners and attorneys and we've had success," she said. "We've managed through education that there are other counties doing this. There are old-fashioned ideas that a pig is a pig."

Potbellied pigs are a boxier breed, with wrinkly faces, straight tails and high hips. Some fears about upkeep may be more imagined than real. "I would rather pick up pig poop than puppy poop," Bragg said. "They're grain fed and it doesn't smell as bad. It's great fertilizer. I had tangerines to die for."

Skillet already has mastered this skill. "Whenever he has to go to the bathroom he oinks at the door," said Ron Ellis, Anderson's partner. The arrangement has literally scratched Skillet's surface. He's been sleeping with Cherokee County chickens in his new home, and they've clawed at his young hide.

Cobb County Commissioner Bill Askea, who represents Skillet's district, sympathizes but questions whether one pig is worthy of new legislation. "I can feel for them, but the law covers a lot of ground," he said. "Right now I don't see a need to change it. Quite frankly, if there's only one or two involved it's not worth changing. I need to look at it more." Desperate for his return, Anderson and Ellis are applying for a county variance and have coraled signatures from neighbors who support Skillet snouting around.

Meanwhile, the couple long to hear the sound of Skillet banging his empty food dish on the floor, his squeals of delight as they scratch his belly in the bathtub and watching him lay around for hours doing nothing. "He's calm and sweet and likes to be loved on," Anderson said. "When we saw him, he acted like he didn't remember us."

By Don Fernandez - Staf

 

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