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Local VT Town Tells Woman She Can't Live With Her 47 Potbelly Pigs


ESSEX, Vt. (TheBlaze/AP) -- A Vermont woman considers her pigs to be pets, but town officials say they're farm animals and have no business living in a residential neighborhood.

The zoning board in Essex has given Florence Gruber and Alan Tsefrekas until Jan. 22 to remove an estimated 30 to 40 miniature potbellied pigs from their home.

Gruber told the board Thursday that her pigs use litter boxes and that the adult animals weigh 50 to 100 pounds. She's given them names like Larry, Nadia, Olive and Snow White Sleepy Girl.

“This is Nadia, that’s Olive,” she told the Burlington Free Press in a recent interview. “That’s Moe, that’s Larry. I don’t know where Shemp is. He’s around here somewhere. That’s Snow White Sleepy Girl, because she yawns all the time …”

The paper explains more:

Bambi laid beneath a heating lamp in the kitchen, nursing the litter of eight piglets she birthed on Christmas Eve. The house smelled of bleach. There were more pigs in the next room. And more upstairs.

The Free Press reports that neighbors complained told the board that the pigs must go.

"The Vermont Department of Agriculture defines pigs, even miniature potbellied pigs, as agricultural animals, which have no place in a residential area [...]," the Free Press says.

But Gruber seems to recognize the neighbor's concerns:

Brian Marcotte, vice president of the Pinewood Manor homeowners association, and several of Tsefrekas’ neighbors complained about the pigs and the condition of the property.

“It’s not a debate about if pigs are good for so and so,” Marcotte said. “It’s irrelevant. No pigs in Pinewood.”

“You have neighbors; that’s the issue,” resident Marie Sadler said. “It’s about consideration for people in the neighborhood.”

Pam Alexander, an animal control officer from Huntington, said she and many other people and organizations were working with Gruber to relocate the pigs. She asked the audience for patience.

“They recognize it’s gotten out of hand,” Alexander said. “The animals are being worked with. Many rescue organizations are involved. No one is looking away.”

Gruber says the pigs are up for adoption.

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