Victoria pig lover refuses to part with pot-bellied babies
'They're like my kids' said Mike Downey, fighting the pigs' relocation to a barn
Vishnu and Athena were named after gods and they don't belong in a barn according to Mike Downey, their vegetarian owner from West Victoria.
He wants his babies home, instead of 30 minutes away on a farm, outside Victoria.
Vishnu and Athena are Downey's two 100-pound pot-bellied pigs.
After animal control spotted Downey taking his pigs for a walk, the city told Downey he had three and a half weeks to relocate them because bylaws state people cannot keep farm animals in the city. Downey says he will do whatever it takes to stay with his pigs.
"They're like my kids so if they're being relocated then I'm going to be relocated too."
"Like my kids"
Downey says everybody loved his pigs during the three years they lived in his house. He works with special-needs patients, who love to play with the pigs, according to him.
"Never a complaint, for the first three years, nothing but crowds of people coming to say hello to my pigs," he said.
Downey would take Vishnu and Athena for walks around the city, using a harness and leash.
They were all calling their pigs ham, crispy bacon, or Kevin Bacon," he said. "I think we need to give a little bit more respect to animals these days.- Mike Downey, vegetarian pig parent
"We have daycare program up the street as well and they all come to come feed the pigs, for little visits, and everybody's happy."
He spent $7,000 and four months to renovate his home for his pigs. This included building a piggy urinal, gates, walls, a sleeping area, a tunnel along the side of the house, and putting in hardwood floors.
"Now they don't have that anymore," he said.
For three years, Vishnu and Athena slept inside with blankets and a heater to keep them warm. Now, they sleep outside. and Downey worries that winter will be too cold for them. He says their second favourite thing after food, is cuddling.
"Because every night I go out and I start shivering, all I can think about my pigs. It drives me crazy to think that my pigs are being forced outside."
Fighting against bylaws
Downey is working with Animal Justice in Victoria to change the bylaw that prohibits people from keeping farm animals in the city.
"Pot-bellied pigs have never been an agricultural animal on farms, so why would we consider them a food item?
Downey, a vegetarian, feels so passionately about the matter that he made it a point to name his pigs after gods.
"They were all calling their pigs ham, crispy bacon, or Kevin Bacon," he said. "I think we need to give a little bit more respect to animals these days."
If the city is unwilling to back down, Downey says he would move out of the city and build something especially for his pigs.
"I'll build a sanctuary if I'm forced out of the city. That's how I roll," he said. "I'm staying with my kids.