Keeper of pigs to appeal Bluffton council vote

cconley@islandpacket.comMay 16, 2012 

A Bluffton resident whose application to keep two potbellied pigs was denied this month will ask Town Council to reconsider.

Rose Dhu Creek Plantation resident Brooke Fisher adopted Homer and Hamlet from a shelter about three years ago. If forced to give up the animals, Fisher said they likely would be put down.

"There is nowhere for them to go," she said Wednesday. "They would probably have to be euthanized, and I don't want to do that."

The council denied Fisher's request for a permit May 8 after a presentation from Police Chief David McAllister urging tougher livestock restrictions.

On Wednesday, McAllister said he has nothing against the Fisher family's pet pigs.

"My recommendation does not specifically have to do with Ms. Fisher's pigs but the broader public policy question of if it is appropriate to allow livestock in residential areas," he said in an email.

After rescuing the animals, Fisher said she expected they would be adopted quickly. When the adoption fell through, the family decided to keep the pigs. Only recently did she discover a permit was necessary.

"I don't really consider them livestock," said Fisher, who owns Brooke's Bed and Biscuit kennel in Bluffton. "They are like dogs. They sit ... they do tricks. They are very, very smart."

The black-haired, 250-pound pigs live in a 1,100-square-foot pen behind the family's garage. Fisher said her two young sons pitch in with chores and have even given up eating pork.

She said the boys, ages 5 and 6, would be devastated if forced to give up the animals.

Brandi Lowe, who lives a few doors down and has a town permit to keep pygmy goats, said the pigs are quiet and stay in their pen.

"I quite honestly don't see what the issue is," she said.

The issue, Councilwoman Karen Lavery said, is that Bluffton is no longer the agricultural hub it once was.

"I don't have a problem with any livestock," she said. "However, I don't feel we are a farming town any longer, and I don't feel livestock should be allowed in the town."

If developments like Rose Dhu want to allow animals within their communities, Lavery suggested, they should apply for a zoning change.

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