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Keeping pigs as pets has become a porker of a problem in San Antonio

French Fry the pig (2).jpg
ACS
/
City of San Antonio
French Fry was rounded up by Animal Care Services in November

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This is the story of three not so little pigs named French Fry, Speedy, and Charlotte.

The City of San Antonio's Animal Care Services, or ACS, reported they were just a few of the pigs they have to round up every year because their owners broke the law by buying one.

All swine — big or small — are illegal in the city.

Lisa Norwood, the ACS spokeswoman, said the big problem is residents are being hoodwinked into buying what they think is a forever lovable tiny pig, but they're not.

"Somebody will get what they believe is a pot-belly pig or what they're told is a micro pig and in fact it's a farm big," she said.

And farm pigs get really big. Too big for crates and too big for yards. One pig named French Fry required special transportation.

"One of them was so large that our officers actually had to bring in our horse trailer to take it from a neighborhood where it was actually running around," Norwood explained.

Another pig named Speedy took up residence in a homeowner's backyard. Their dog alerted them to its presence — and the pig earned its name that day.

"He was able to escape the yard and take off down the street. ... We had to hoof it after him as well, so a chase ensued but we were able to get him," Norwood said.

Then there was Charlotte. She got cozy under a portable building at an elementary school.

"We laid a trail of meatballs made out of soft dog food, and that was enough to lure the pig ... out from underneath the building."

Norwood said pigs roaming the city is dangerous for them and can be dangerous for residents.

Pigs are smart and can get into all sorts of mischief around homes. They either escape from their owners or are simply turned loose when they get too big, she said.

She also warned illegal pig owners that the animals cost a lot to feed because they eat a lot. The pigs are also expensive for the city to care for.

Norwood also said finding a permanent home for them outside of the city can be difficult for ACS.

The pigs are often sold at online marketplaces for anywhere from $75 to $400, depending on size. Norwood said those who sell them are as slick as the pigs.

"These unusual animal breeders or sellers will protect themselves. A lot of times they'll be out in the county, or they'll be in another jurisdiction. That means that they cannot be held responsible for actually having the animals and selling them."

Norwood said the sellers also warn buyers it's up to them to find out if it's illegal where they live to take a pig home.

Fines for a local resident caught with a pet pig can grow just as hefty as the animals, starting at $300 per violation.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian