Chesterfield family hopes pet pig's therapeutic certification will end battle to keep it

Published: Nov. 19, 2014 at 2:26 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2014 at 6:03 AM EST
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A new certification could potentially keep a pet pig from being booted out of Brandermill. The County Board of Supervisors is set to decide the fate of Tucker the Pig, Wednesday evening. Tucker's family is hoping his recent designation as an emotional support animal, will trump a Chesterfield County ordinance.

Tucker has been a part of the Johnson family for nearly two years. However, now that the pig's considered a therapy animal, his family believes he has federal protection.

Tucker has always been a healing presence for Mark and Kim Johnson, and their two sons. Mark deals with anxiety and insomnia, after the tragic loss of one of their children.

"I actually have what they consider a disability," said Mark, of many sleepless nights.

A doctor recently prescribed Tucker as treatment for Mark. The pet pig, who's treated just like a dog, now has a certificate and an identification card.

"He's always been an emotional support animal. We felt we were forced to make this official," continued Mark.

The Johnson's are battling for a conditional use permit to allow Tucker to stay in his indoor pen. According to ordinances, Tucker is considered livestock and doesn't belong in that section of Chesterfield County.

"We've had such an outreach of people and supporters,” said Kim Johnson, of the thousands of people who have supported Tucker from around Virginia, and the country.

However, the Johnson's say Tucker will now have protection under the Americans with Disabilities and Fair Housing Amendments Acts.

"Reasonable accommodations must be made for me to enjoy my dwelling... and that (means) changes in rules, policies, procedures and so forth," described Mark of the allowances he says legally must be made for someone with a disability and an emotional support animal.

Ultimately, there may be a legal debate over what allowances should be made for an emotional support animal, particularly in a land use, zoning situation. However, Tucker's family says they're not letting up.

"It's very stressful. We cannot keep going like this. We need to have closure...and I have to do what it takes to protect my family," continued Mark.

NBC12 reached out to each of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. No one replied with any official comments. Tucker's hearing begins tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m..

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