’She’s very well behaved:’ Petersburg family battles to keep pet pig

Petersburg family told they can't keep pig

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Lizzy is a 3-year-old miniature spotted pot-bellied pig, and a part of the Mckee family. Traci Mckee adopted Lizzy to act as a therapy animal for her two sons, both of whom have autism, when Lizzy was a piglet.

Now city officials are saying the pig has to go.

“She’s intelligent. She’s absolutely amazing,” Mckee said, through tears. “I got a little emotional. I’m sorry."

Lizzy acts like any other domesticated pet. She loves attention, a good snack and a romp around the yard. She’s even graced South Park Mall to get professional head shots.

“She is a very good model,” Mckee said.

“We love this pig,” 12-year-old William said.

William is nearly inseparable from his potbellied best friend. Traci says her son’s ability to cope and socialize has improved immensely with Lizzy’s gentle, daily interaction.

But Petersburg Animal Control stopped by the family’s fenced-in backyard last week, and told the McKees that their home is not zoned for livestock.

“They want me to re-home her, which I’m not wanting to do,” Mckee said.

Traci says Lizzy spends most of her day on the sofa, so she says classifying her as a farm animal is far from reality. She says Lizzy is domesticated, and loved by nearly everyone in her neighborhood.

"She’s a couch potato. She’s very pampered,” she said.

The battle to keep domesticated pigs as pets has been taken up in cities across the U.S.

Tucker, a domesticated pig in Chesterfield’s Brandermill, was the center of a national story in 2015, as neighbors complained he may lower property values. Tucker’s family, the Johnsons, pushed county officials to allow them to keep their indoor pet. After a back-and-forth struggle, the family ultimately moved to Powhatan, which was more welcoming to residences having a household pig.

Traci said the thought of giving up a member of her family is crippling.

“If my pig was roaming the neighborhood or getting loose, I could understand that. But she’s very well behaved,” Traci said.

Traci says she’s looking to relocate her family if that means keeping Lizzy.

NBC12 reached out to Petersburg Animal Control for comment, and has not yet heard back.

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