Ventura County couple loses appeal to keep 4 potbellied pigs

VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) -- It's a legal battle that's gone hog wild in Ventura County. The owners of several potbellied pigs are trying to convince county officials to allow them to keep the animals.

Muta is an 11-year-old potbellied pig. Jeffrey Rowland and his wife say he's a part of the family, a pet. But Ventura County says he's a farm animal who doesn't belong in a neighborhood like La Conchita.

On Tuesday, the Rowlands lost their battle to keep Muta and their three other potbellied pigs in their home.

"Honestly, it's a defeat. We really thought that the information we presented was going to allow them to accept pigs as pets," Rowland said.

"Well, our ordinance is specific, and it lists which animals are considered to be farm animals, and it doesn't say a potbellied pig should be treated any differently than a normal farm American grown pig," said Winston Wright with the Ventura County Planning Agency.

The Rowlands argue they've had their pigs since they were babies, and the animals are like therapy pigs.

Stephanie Rowland says she suffers from mental illness, and the pigs keep her calm.

"They are our children. They are our life. I mean, how do you choose?" she said. "Sorry, I actually have Tourette's so that's what the ticks are."

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors did take Rowland's health issues into consideration and will allow them to keep one of the pigs. The family has six months to decide whether to stay at home with one animal or move with all four.

The family says no matter what they're going to keep Muta and the rest of their pets.

"Never, ever, ever. How do you choose between your children?" Stephanie Rowland said.

"It's your family, and when somebody goes after your family you take it personally," Jeffrey Rowland said. "We look into other avenues. We look into other ideas."

When asked if he and his family are going to move, Rowland said that's another possibility.
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