Town expands unique animal ownership to pet pigs

Above: Sgt. William Norton, Manager of Enforcement Services, speaks to Council Nov. 14 about adding pet pigs tot he unique animal ownership list. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent

Council has unanimously approved a limited number of Morinville residents to own pet pigs after a report to Council from Sgt. William Norton, Manager of Enforcement Services, focusing on three requests to consider issuing permits for different breeds of swine (pig).

One application currently has ownership of a full grown pot-bellied (160 lb) pig and is residing in the town, another owns a teacup pig and is considering moving to Morinville, and a third is waiting for approval before moving forward with ownership.

In clarification to a question from Councillor Lawrence Giffin, Norton said the intended applications are for pet ownership.

“They are traditionally farm animals that most recently, [in the] last ten years especially, have become an interest of owners and the pot-bellied pig is an emotional support animal for the residents at that location,” Norton said. “It is not certified but has been identified for emotional support.”

Of the choice of Option A (allowing a trial period of one year and a maximum of six households being allowed unique animals) or B (removing all conditions to block unique animal onwership) recommendations brought forward by Norton, Councillor Nicole Boutestein brought forward a third option of none of the above.

After a more than half hour discussion, Option A was unanimously approved. Councillor Sarah Hall made the motion for Option A as it restricts the time limit to one year and Council can then revisit the bylaw. This would allow for applicants to submit their request for pigs or other unique animals for a period of one year. Norton stated that these permits are only good per annum. They have to renew them annually.

“If we were to withdraw that bylaw on pigs, then in essence they would lose the ability to house that animal in town,” Norton said, adding the same process would be followed as the Town does with fowl that will address and identify a number of areas of concern, including housing and shelter. Among the criteria examined before allowing a unique animal, Norton will examine where pig would be fed, nuisances that may or may not take place, and how to control those to a minimum. Additionally, CPOs would examine whether the owner is qualified to be an owner of such an animal and address concerns such as what they will do when they are on vacation, and other concerns. Norton said once all the questions are answered, they will have a more complete picture whether this animal is suitable or not to be in an urban setting.

Boutestein made queries as to the noise and snorting all day from the pigs and the droppings from a 160 lb pig varying from that of a 3 lb chicken. Norton said pet pigs pose a different consideration and dealing with the amount of droppings and general health is something that needs to be specifically spoken to. The CPO Sergeant said noise is currently controlled in the existing bylaw. He mentioned there are special breeds that are domesticated and do not snort (root) as much as boars or the general meat pigs.

Boutestein queried as to diseases and disease control and Norton replied the animal would require a record of health and would have to comply with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Additionally, the owner’s animal would still have to have a livestock permit, still have to be registered, and still have to comply with a number of provincial and federal acts under the health and safety aspects of disease and disease management.

Norton said the current bylaw, as it was passed in 2016, does have the ability for all unique pet ownership in the process that was built in. It was through the amendments and motions after they bylaw was passed that restricted it to only fowl and chickens. The requests coming forward for the ownership of pigs is in line with the thought process of the bylaw but is something that is new to the motions that were previously made to the bylaw that requires Council consideration.

Norton said his department has also fielded queries about goats and geese.

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