Pets and Emotional Support Animals are hot topics in the United States.
Wyverne Flatt who is fighting to keep his pot-bellied pig Ellie as an emotional support animal poses for a photograph at his home Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Canajoharie, N.Y. Village officials consider Ellie a farm animal, and not allowed in the village. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
A guy in the state of New York is involved in a legal battle over his pet pig. Ellie the potbellied pig is not a farm animal to Wyverne Flatt; she is "family." Ellie is a service animal for people who need emotional assistance. Flatt's suffering was eased by her during the end of his marriage and the death of his mother.
Ellie is viewed differently in the village of Canajoharie, New York, where Flatt lives. Officials claim she is a farm animal and hence is not allowed to live within village limits.
Flatt's case is the latest in a long line of pet-related controversies in the United States. The main questions are: What sorts of animals are allowed to be owned by people? What could these creatures be used for? What should they be stored for and how should they be used?
Animals that provide emotional comfort
Emotional support animals have been increasingly popular in the United States in recent years.
They are companion animals, according to the American Humane Society, who assist their owners in dealing with issues related to mental health conditions. The presence of the pets provides consolation, according to the Society.
Emotional support animals, unlike service and therapy dogs, are not expected or taught to perform tasks linked to their owner's condition.
For years, airlines were compelled to allow emotional support animals to fly in the passenger cabins with their owners. However, US transportation officials have stated that airlines may ban emotional support animals from flights beginning in 2020.
The case of Flatt
When Flatt met Ellie in 2018, he was living in South Carolina. He described her as about the size of a shoe. Ellie now weighs around 50 kg.
When Flatt acquired a house in Canajoharie in 2019, she followed him north. Flatt's property was visited by a village official in October of that year. Ellie was not allowed to live there, according to the official. Ellie was still there six months later. The village has filed a lawsuit. Flatt was formally informed that he was in violation of a village ordinance prohibiting the possession of farm animals.
Flatt recently caressed the pig in his kitchen and stated, I could never imagine of giving away someone who is a part of my family.She's a brilliant young lady. She's a lot smarter than my dogs.
The pig is described as a potential public health hazard in the village's court complaint. It further claims that disobeying housing laws results in a lawless environment.
The village also claims that it is eager to make reasonable accommodations, but that Flatt failed to comply with the law.
The trial was supposed to commence on March 22, but it was postponed. Flatt's lawyer claims that if he is proven guilty, he might face jail time or have the pig taken away from him.
Flatt isn't the only one who has had problems with housing laws.
In 2019, a family from Buffalo, New York, lost a case involving Pork Chop, their potbellied pig. Pork Chop was an emotional support animal for their daughter-in-law, according to the family. Pork Chop, however, was ordered by a court to relocate. A woman in Indiana had been compelled to move her pig for similar reasons a year before.
Pigs are still allowed to be kept as pets in several parts of the country. Weight limits for pet pigs are set by some local legislation. Only pot-bellied pigs are allowed under other laws.
Canajoharie approved a new, more thorough animal-keeping ordinance last month. Farm animals are still not permitted to reside in the settlement. The new rule, on the other hand, makes it explicit how residents can request a reasonable accommodation for emotional support animals.
People have offered to shelter Ellie outside of the village, according to Flatt, but he intends to fight to keep her.