Nicole Shuiling's son only wanted one thing for his sixth birthday.... a new pet. Bt we're not talking about a puppy or a kitten.
"My son saw a show on Animal Planet about pet pigs, and it really sparked his interest, which in turn caused me to do a lot of research and reading. And I discovered that they really are great pets, so we figured let's give it a try," said Nicole Schuiling, a pig owner.
And the Schuilings say Oscar, their one year old pot-bellied pig, has been a great pet. Oscar does all the things most pets do. He takes long naps, eats treats, and mingles with other animals. The Delta Township family thought the township would see him as a pet, too, but they don't.
"I knew that there was an ordiance against livestock, however I did not think he would be considered livestock, seeing as how he lives inside. He is a pet. We don't plan to eat him or use him for profit in any way," said Schuiling.
But the township doesn't classify Oscar as a pet. In March, the family got a letter that said Oscar had to be out within 30 days because a zoning ordinance prohibits livestock from living in a residential district.
"We have a definition of livestock that includes catttle, sheep, goats and swine, and swine includes pigs. And therefore, acting in my capacity as zoning administrator, I made a decision that the pig was not permitted in a residential district," said Mark Graham, the Zoning Administrator for Delta Township
Schuiling appealed the decision to the township's Board of Appeals, and they decided not to ammend the ordinance. The board will meet again to decide if the ordinance was interpreted correctly. The Schuilings hopes they see that oscar is a pet, so he can be a part of the family for many years to come.
"When we first got the letter, we did talk to the kids about getting Oscar a new home. And it was right then we knew that wasn't going to happen. I mean he cried for two hours, and the next day my kids go to Savior Luthern School, and the teacher called me and said that they call had to pray for Oscar the whole day because he was so upset, and we had a rough day at school. And we decided that we can't break up our family. It would be like breaking up our family," said Schuiling.
The Zoning Board of Appeals will meet again on July 9th to make a final decision on the case. If the board still feels that Oscar should be considered livestock and not a pet., he will have to leave within 30 days or the case will most likely end up in court.