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Woman Gathers Petitions In Hopes Trustees Will Let Her Keep Pigs As Pets

January 25, 2003

For the second time, Dawn McCarthy Brandt asked Hinsdale trustees to allow her to keep two Vietnamese potbellied pigs at her home.

Brandt appeared at Tuesday's Hinsdale Village Board meeting to ask trustees to reconsider an October decision that upheld a village ordinance prohibiting potbellied pigs in Hinsdale.

"Like thousands of Americans, I think they are appropriate for keeping as pets," Brandt said.

Brandt said she has collected petition signatures from every neighbor on her block in support of the pigs. The petition also states the pigs don't bother the neighbors.

Virginia Walsh, who lives on Brandt's block, asked trustees to make an exception for Brandt's pigs.

"I have never seen nor heard the pigs," Walsh said.

Village President George Faulstich told Brandt he will review the material she provided and decide whether the board will revisit the decision.

"I think it's unlikely we will change it, but I will take this under consideration," Faulstich

Village code prohibits keeping or maintaining cattle, swine, sheep and goats. It doesn't distinguish between types of cattle, swine, sheep or goats.

Brandt is sticking to her belief that potbellied pig are pets, not swine. Potbellied pigs are available in pet stores, she added.

"I'm just hoping that somebody can listen this time with an open mind and heart," Brandt said. "I've gotten a lot of support letters. I think it's unjust that they can just do that."

She can't help but think about the possibility that the pigs will have to leave her home. Therefore, she is contemplating putting her house on the market.

"I guess in complying I would have to move," she said.

Brandt hasn't been able to find a new home for the pigs.

"I get more scared every day," she said. "I just picture them coming with nooses and taking my pets away."

Cza Cza is 8 years old and weighs between 100 and 125 pounds. Petunia is 4 years old and weighs between 80 and 100 pounds. They spend time indoors and outdoors.

"They like being outside," Brandt said. "They've got a big house out there."

Brandt wasn't aware the village prohibits swine when she moved into her home. The village learned of the pigs last summer when a neighbor complained.

The village ticketed Brandt in August, said public services director Dan Schoenberg. Officials won't proceed with prosecution until Brandt's request for legislative relief is exhausted.

Brandt requested a village code amendment allowing potbellied pigs in Hinsdale. Village trustees denied her request last October.

"I feel there's a lot of merit in the code that's there," Trustee Craig Milkint said at the time.

Trustee William Blomquist proposed special legislation that would allow only Brandt to keep potbellied pigs, but the other trustees didn't support it. A court date was set for Dec. 24, but since it was Christmas Eve, a village holiday, the date was continued to Tuesday, Jan. 21.

The village will be prepared to go to trial on this complaint, Schoenberg said. That includes asking the judge to order the pigs removed from Brandt's home, he added.

"If we go to trial, that's what's going to happen," Schoenberg said.

Brandt said that her court date was continued again until Tuesday, Feb. 18.

By Brian Boyle
Suburban Life

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