State Sen. Tony Avella To Make Appeal To Grant Exemptions For 'Therapy Pets'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)A New York City woman, who has a pet pig she uses as a service animal, said the city is trying to take her beloved animal away from her.

Now, a state lawmaker is vowing to help her and another Queens pig owner from having their pets evicted.

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WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman first spoke with disabled Navy veteran Nadine Darsanlal last month about her pet pig named Wilbur.

At the time, Wilbur was a therapy pig in training, being taught how to help others.

“I’ve had no issues legally, no,” Darsanlal told Silverman.

But she said in the past month she has faced “complete harassment.” Darsanlal said someone complained about Wilbur.

“The pig has not bothered them, hasn’t hurt anybody,” she told Silverman.

The Health Department served her a notice.

“I have to have him certified in Suffolk to live there in order for me to have him as my pet,” Darsanlal said.

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“As of now, Wilbur lives in Suffolk until further notice. He’s registered under Suffolk with his microchips, so he’s technically ok,” Darsanlal told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.

Darsanlal had been taking Wilbur to schools while he was awaiting certification.

Darsanlal has now joined forces with another embattled pig owner, Danielle Forgione, and State Sen. Tony Avella. He is expected to make the case for mini pig legalization Tuesday in Whitestone.

Ms. Nadine Darsanlal and her therapy pig, Wilbur. (credit: Mona Rivera, 1010 WINS)

Ms. Nadine Darsanlal and her therapy pig, Wilbur. (credit: Mona Rivera, 1010 WINS)

“So I’m very extremely happy,” Darsanlal told Silverman.

A news release from Avella’s office Monday indicated that Forgione bought “Petey” the pig to help her children deal with “anxiety and stress of having their uncle suddenly pass away in a motorcycle crash and their grandfather suffering from cancer.”

However, because the current city Health Code prohibits “the possession and/or harboring of pig species,” the city has ordered Forgione’s family to remove the pig from their home.

Avella wants to see changes to the city’s law that would allow exemptions for the pigs and possibly classify the animals as therapy pets.

The Forgione family also previously launched an online petition at Change.org calling for a modification to the New York City animal law.

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