NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Staten Island woman is in a battle with the city over a beloved pig.
She wants to keep the animal as a pet, but the health department says she can’t keep a “wild animal” inside her home.
At 180 pounds and four feet tall, Wilbur — a juliana pig — is not your usual household pet. His owner, Christy Matteo, admits it — saying Wilber is family.
“I’m his mom,” she tells CBS2’s Scott Rapoport. “This is Wilbur, my child.”
She says he’s been part of her family for five years, ever since she brought him home from a breeder in Utah. She’s even got a tattoo of the beloved pig on her back.
Wilbur is special pals with their dog Milo and is even registered as an emotional support animal for her father, who’s undergoing cancer treatments when he’s in the house. Matteo says the pig keeps her father’s stress levels down during his radiation treatments.
But now Wilbur could soon be on the way out. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued Matteo a violation saying she was unlawfully keeping a wild animal in Wilbur inside.
“Somebody called 311 on me because I had a pig in my house,” she said.
The case has gone to court. It’s been determined Matteo must get rid of Wilbur by Jan. 31.
According to a statement from the department, the health code prohibits pigs to be kept as pets in New York City, citing there is no USDA-approved rabies vaccine for pigs.
Matteo says there’s a reason for that, claiming there is no documented case of a pig ever getting rabies.
She’s not alone in her fight to save Wilbur. State Senator Tony Avella is sponsoring a bill that would allow pigs as pets so long as they are under 200 pounds — Wilbur just makes the cut.
“These are not farm animals,” he said. “I mean, we’re talking about a pet.”
With the end of the month eviction deadline looming, Wilbur’s time may be running out regardless of Avella’s bill.