Nova Scotia

'They ain't hurtin' nobody': Kentville man told to get rid of pet pigs

North Kentville, N.S. resident Noah Graves says he'd be devastated if he'd have to give up his two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, Einstein and Winstin.

Einstein and Winstin are classified as livestock and aren't permitted in a residential area, says bylaw

Noah Graves has received two tickets from the Town of Kentville for having pet pigs and a rooster. (Noah Graves)

Einstein and Winstin are "good boys."

They like to play with their toys. They love apples and belly rubs.

They used a litter box when they were little and slept in dog beds indoors.

Noah Graves even bottle-fed the two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs when they were tiny, squirming, snorting babies.

He would never dream of turning them into bacon.

But local bylaw officers say Einstein and Winstin are classified as "meat pigs," Graves said, and have told him to get rid of them.

Complaint filed

Graves, 19, said bylaw officers first came to his father's place in North Kentville, N.S., about two months ago and told him they had received a complaint.

"They said someone complained about a 300-pound hog running through their yard," he said.

Noah Graves says his two Viatnamese pot-bellied pigs are "his boys." (Noah Graves)

But Einstein and Winstin don't even come up to one's knees, Graves said. Winstin, who is almost 2½ years old, weighs about 60 pounds, and Einstein, who is 1½ years old, is about 45 pounds.

"The SPCA came up and they fell in love with our pigs. They were like, 'Oh my God, we thought we were coming to see some 300-pound hog,'" Graves said.

Bylaw violation

Bylaw officers have issued two fines of $237.50 each and given Graves until the end of August to get rid of the animals, he said.

"They're demanding that they're gone or else I'll keep on getting these fines or go to court and face further trouble," said Graves.

He said he still doesn't know what bylaw he is accused of violating.

North Kentville resident Noah Graves has been given until the end of August to get rid of the animals. (Noah Graves)

The tickets issued to his father, the property owner, simply say he has violated a provision of the Municipal Government Act.

The ticket orders him to pay the fine or notify the court in Kentville before Aug. 25 of his intention to appear.

Response from municipality

Trish Javorek, the manager of community development for the Municipality of the County of Kings, told CBC News there was at least one complaint about the pigs.

She said the property owner has been issued two tickets for having the pigs and a rooster.

"They're in a residential zone that does not permit livestock," said Javorek.

Under animal control bylaw 12A, livestock excludes cats, dogs and urban chickens, but includes animals like horses, ponies and rabbits.

One of Noah Graves's Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs enjoys a snooze indoors. (Noah Graves)

She said the municipality has been looking for compliance since February.

The term "meat pig" would not have been used by a bylaw officer, Javorek said.

Friendly, playful, smart

The pigs are friendly, playful and smart, Graves said.

"Einstein, you can roll him right over on his back and he'll let you do a belly rub for him."

Graves even has harnesses that he uses to take Einstein and Winstin on walks with the dogs.

One of Noah Graves's pot-bellied pigs uses a litter box inside his home. (Noah Graves)

On hot days, Graves puts body lotion on the pigs to prevent their skin from becoming dry.

Graves said the pigs live in their own outdoor area with a new fence, a shed for shelter, and their own food bowls for their apples, pig pellets and corn. The pigs' manure is brought to a farm field and tilled into the soil.

They aren't loud or smelly, Graves said.

"They'll make noise when we're coming up with food for them or something like that.... You'll hear them grunt and squeak," he said. "But other than that, they kind of keep to themselves."

Exploring options

Graves is still trying to figure out what to do next. He said he'll explore rezoning his father's property.

"I was looking at taking them to the [Aylesford] zoo, but I know they're not going to get treated like I treat them at the zoo," Graves said. "They ain't going to get their food like I do, they're not going to get the lotion on them on the hot days, they won't get their toys.

One of Noah Graves's baby pot-bellied pigs enjoys a belly scratch. (Noah Graves)

"Hopefully I don't have to get rid of them. But if I do, I'm going to try to get visitation rights at least at the zoo."

Graves said he would be "devastated" if he had to give them up.

"I bottle-fed them from babies. They ain't hurtin' nobody."

Javorek said anyone in the municipality thinking of buying traditional livestock animals as pets should first check with the municipality to see if their neighbourhood zoning allows it.

With files from Anjuli Patil