Brainerd City Council: Petitioner for mini pig ordinance reveals himself
The plot thickens. Previously unidentified in Brainerd City Council meetings, the petitioner for an ordinance change that would allow miniature pigs in city limits has stepped forward and his name is Daniel Wahl. During the council meeting July 1...
The plot thickens.
Previously unidentified in Brainerd City Council meetings, the petitioner for an ordinance change that would allow miniature pigs in city limits has stepped forward and his name is Daniel Wahl.
During the council meeting July 16, City Planner Mark Ostgarden told the council he had not heard from the petitioner since July 1 and, thus, couldn't confirm if the city still had a pressing reason to consider a change.
"What's before you tonight, this is not a city staff proposal or the planning department-this is based on an inquiry by a member of the public and their desire to have a mini pig," Ostgarden advised the council at the time. "I don't know if this individual still has any desire to have a mini pig. I don't know where that stands. I have not heard a hue and cry from others about their desire to have mini pigs."
Wahl-noting he harbors no bad feelings for Ostgarden, describing the city planner as "an awesome guy," and "very helpful" -said he didn't reach out because he didn't want to pester city employees and didn't think it was necessary for the process.
Originally, Wahl said, he placed a down payment for a piglet in late June, before realizing Brainerd ordinances would not allow the pint-sized porker in city limits. He promptly contacted Ostgarden to see if the ordinance could be re-evaluated. In the meantime, he said, he's waiting for the council's verdict before he can make good on the down payment or get a refund.
During a phone interview Friday, July 20, Wahl said he wanted to offer his perspective on the issue and dispel some myths regarding the economy-sized oinkers.
"When people think of pigs they think of some filthy critter that lives on a farm-'Oh, they're filthy animals! They're this, they're that,'" Wahl said. The stereotype of a pig wallowing in the mud, he noted, is one borne from slaughter animals on farms, while pigs are generally clean on their own.
"Truth be known, on an intelligence level-if a dog is a 5, then a pig is a 3," he said. "A pig is more intelligent than a dog. Their noses are more sensitive than a dog, their eyesight is worse than a dog, but intelligence-wise they're smarter than a dog and easier to train."
Pointing to prior experiences owning a pot-bellied pig named Pattycake, Wahl said the experience was much like owning a dog as well.
"(Pattycake) was an inside-outside pig. It spent a lot of its time inside and when she wanted to go outside and pee, she would grunt and nudge my leg or go to the door, she'd go out and do her business, you'd let her back inside and life was great," said Wahl, who added the living arrangement for a new Juliana pig would be the same. "I'd let her outside like a dog, she'd do her business and run around a bit, get some exercise. It's not going to live in a pig pen out back."
In contrast to prior statements by Ostgarden-who stated in previous council meetings miniature pigs could get as large as 300 pounds-Wahl said what he would characterize as a miniature pig rarely goes above 100 pounds, and only if the pig is overfed and obese.
Unlike pigs intended for slaughter, Wahl said, owners have no reason to fatten a small swine pet. Instead, he noted, there is more of an incentive to maintain a healthy diet and keep them exercised-for example, Pattycake (a pot-bellied pig, which is typically a larger breed than the Juliana pig he wants to buy) never grew beyond the approximate size of a large springer spaniel, Wahl said.
In fact, judging by a Juliana pig-which Wahl said would be about 60-70 pounds-half-squat hogs are a little smaller than a typical Doberman, Rottweiler or black lab in terms of weight, he added, and certainly smaller in terms of length or height.
Wahl also disagreed with any fears the town may be somehow overrun with squeelers, noting in previous years there were similar fears chickens would do the same-however, only three people bought licenses for chickens, he said, while only one still has a chicken today.
"There's going to be no rush to bring pigs into crowded areas like Brainerd," said Wahl, who noted furthermore the chubby little ungulates pose similar risks as more conventional pets. "They have the same issues with dogs, they have the same issues with cats."
Wahl works as a mechanic at Kelly's Service on the corner of North Fourth and Washington streets. As such, he's employed by council member Kelly Bevans.
During a phone interview Monday, July 23, Bevans said he did not feel the situation warranted a possible conflict of interest, but would recuse himself from making a final vote on the matter to avoid the appearance of favoring one side or another in a compromised role.
Bevans said he's interested in how a public hearing will illuminate the issue of allowing small swine-slated sometime during the council meeting at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 6, during the second reading of the subject. He added similar hearings have been fascinating in the past, particularly for goats and chickens.
"I want to hear what the public has to say," Bevans said. "I think will be interesting. It certainly was for chickens."
Weighing the pros and cons
During the Aug. 6 meeting, council members will consider a number of recommendations, public input and their own positions before they vote on whether to allow miniature pigs in the city of Brainerd. Ostgarden said the suggested license fee is $15, in line with license fees for a dog.
Per suggestions and recommendations by the city's planning department to the council:
• Should the city require spaying/neutering of miniature pigs? Unneutered male pigs are aggressive and give off a strong odor. Intact female pigs go into estrus every 21 days, during which time they also become more aggressive and moody. The American Mini Pig Association and the Pig Placement Network (a rescue organization) both recommend neutering/spaying pigs kept for noncommercial purposes. The planning department recommends this action.
• Should the city prohibit slaughter on residential properties? Some residents may choose to raise miniature pigs as a source of fresh pork. The city council may want to prohibit the slaughter of pigs on residential properties. The planning department recommends this action.
• Should the city require a fenced area for miniature pigs? Experts agree pigs are inquisitive creatures with a tendency to roam. Fencing is the preferred method for securing pigs. It is not recommended to tether miniature pigs in a yard unattended. Electric fencing does not appear to be an option for miniature pigs. If left outside without a fenced yard, a miniature pig is likely to roam into neighboring property. At this time, it is unknown whether the city animal control officer is trained in equipped for capturing at-large miniature pigs. Heartland Animal Rescue Team has been contacted and it said should it be required, it is capable of impounding a pig.
• Should the city limit miniature pig licenses to single-family residential properties? Miniature pigs need outdoor space, which may not be available within multi-family homes. Additionally, miniature pigs living within multi-family housing complexes will be in closer proximity to neighbors, potentially becoming a nuisance. Beekeeping and chickens are limited to single-family residential properties for these reasons.
Per documents submitted by Brainerd's planning department, these are the suggested minimum requirements for owning a pig in city limits, should the council opt to change the ordinance.
• A pig shall not exceed 200 pounds.
• The property at which a pig can be kept is a parcel or lot zoned for and developed with a single-family detached dwelling.
• One pig is permitted on a parcel or lot and counted with the number of cats, dogs and chickens allowed per parcel or lot.
• A license and fee will be required.
• A pig shall be spayed, neutered and have a rabies vaccination with verification provided by a duly licensed veterinarian at the time of an application.
• The property has and will maintain a fence no less than 4 feet in height with an enclosed area of 250 square feet in a rear yard only, within proximity to a water source constructed and located in accord with all zoning regulations. When not attended outdoors, the pig shall be kept in the enclosed area.
• Slaughtering is not permitted on a property zoned for single-family detached dwellings.
• An application for a license shall be made on a city-supplied form.
• An application shall include the approval signatures of all abutting property owners.