October 04, 2023

Mini pigs likely to leave town

The Osceola City Council met for a regular meeting on July 19, where the third discussion was had regarding the mini pigs at 525 S Lincoln St.

The topic of allowing mini pigs in town was first brought to the city council at their meeting June 7. Owner Jake Salazar came before the council to discuss her 10 rescue mini pigs, after a neighbor had notified the city of a violation of the ordinance against keeping livestock in city limits at 525 S Lincoln Street.

At that meeting, Salazar explained to the council she had been told by their realtor the pigs did not go against any of Osceola’s ordinances. Council gave Salazar a six month time frame to rehome the pigs while they discussed if they wanted to amend the ordinance or possibly make a new one. Council revisited the discussion at the June 21 meeting, and asked city staff to work on drafting an ordinance for the keeping of the pigs to see what that would look like.

City Administrator Ty Wheeler provided council with a draft of an ordinance, after having looked at examples and using material about mini pigs from advocacy groups as provided at the June 21 meeting. Wheeler said the draft looked similar to the urban chicken ordinance, as far as laying out definitions, areas pigs could be kept, zoning, permit and fees, etc. Additionally, Wheeler told council that he had spoken with the American Mini Pig Association to get an idea of the general number of mini pigs that people usually have, and found that 2 or 3 was a common amount. Earlier that day, Wheeler and another city staff member had made a surprise visit to the residence to look around the property, and noted that it all appeared to be in good condition.

“It’s all good and fine when we’ve got someone responsible,” said Wheeler. “I don’t know what the staff would do if we had an issue where there were mini pigs not being cared for…I don’t know if we’re equipped to deal with that. That’s a consideration.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dr. George Fotiadis inquired into a recent request from a resident to keep a goat as an emotional support animal on their property before echoing his sentiments from an earlier council meeting regarding the pigs:

“I hate to be the mean guy in all this, but where does it end,” said Fotiadis. “If we permit [pigs]…what animals do we stop [at]? Bottom line…if I support any change in non-cat or dog animals, it’s going to be with a strict limit, and you’re already over that.”

Councilman Tom Bahls told the owners that he was empathetic to their situation in saving the pigs and advocating for them, but that he also agreed a limit would have to be put in place on the amount of pigs. Councilman Doug Gay agreed, saying he wasn’t sure what number he’d put as a limit, but ten were too many. Councilman Dan Hooper said he was inclined to stick with the previous six-month motion that had been made and table the discussion for the next meeting.

Addressing the owners, Fotiadis stated:

“For direction, understand that no action has been taken, the matter is going to be studied, may not may not be permitted. Understand that [there are ] probably going to be limits below where you are.”

Salazar thanked the council for their work in trying to make it work, but said that she would be moving along with her pigs.

Special election

Wheeler reminded the council of the special election for mayor scheduled for September 13. Petitions are due to the county auditor by August 19 at 5 pm from anyone interested in running. During the city council reports, Gay asked if a mayoral forum could be held, should there be more than one candidate. He suggested the Thursday before the election, allowing the public a chance to meet the candidates and hear from them, as well as let the candidates hear from the people.

No decision was made on a forum at that time.

Full city council minutes are available on the city’s website: osceolaia.net.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.