Michigan community welcomes first city pig
HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — Kallie and Andrew Spidahl’s family of two large dogs, two cats and several backyard chickens just gained its newest member: Holland’s first city pig.
“It’s still kind of weird — I woke up this morning and we let all the animals in, and then a pig just also walked in,” Kallie Spidahl told the Holland Sentinel .
Will, a two-year-old, 50-pound miniature pig, moved in with the Spidahls after Holland City Council approved an ordinance amendment in October that allows the keeping of mini pigs as pets.
Kallie Spidahl asked the city to pass the amendment after looking into rescuing a pet pig, and is the first person to utilize the ordinance amendment. This was after traveling to Vietnam last fall and seeing the abundance of potbelly pigs that live there.
When she returned home, she started doing research.
“It turns out, pigs are popular, but they also get re-homed at a crazy rate,” Kallie Spidahl said. “People buy them thinking they’re not going to get any bigger than teacup size, and then don’t want them anymore.”
Defined by the U.S. and the state of Michigan, a mini pig weighs 120 pounds or less at maturity and is not used for livestock, food or fiber. No permit is required for a resident to keep a mini pig, and they are treated similarly to dogs in the city’s ordinance, which allows pets “commonly kept and housed inside dwellings.” Holland allows no more than two dogs, five cats and no more than five total dogs and cats at residences.
Bringing a pig into an already animal-filled home is a learning experience, the Spidahls said.
“We brought him home and he immediately started chewing our linoleum,” Kallie Spidahl said. “You have to pig-proof your house, for sure. It’s like having a puppy — they will destroy stuff and eat stuff.”
The family was nervous about how Will would fit in with the rest of the pets, but Kallie Spidahl said the introduction was “anticlimactic.”
“The cats think he is just a weird-looking dog,” she said.
In other aspects, Will is just a normal pet. He eats twice a day and is house trained, so he goes outside with the dogs. He is food-motivated, Andrew Spidahl said, and likes vegetables as snacks and rewards.
“He comes (to us) mostly for the prospect of food,” he said. “He is also a pretty good cuddler — we’ve already had him up on the couch. He hates being cold, hates being hungry.”
Pigs are also quite smart, so it’s important to stimulate them, Kallie Spidahl said.
The Spidahls encourage those interested in becoming pig owners to do their research, and look into pig rescues. They found Will on Petfinder. Andrew Spidahl suggests making sure the pig will have some kind of companionship, whether other animals or a human that is home more often than not.
Will is still a new Holland resident, and the Spidahls are looking forward to getting him acclimated to their large family of four-legged creatures.
“It’s like having a bunch of kids,” Kallie Spidahl said.
Information from: The Holland Sentinel, http://www.thehollandsentinel.com