A decision by the Sylvania Township Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) that a family removes its pig from a home at 9328 St. Angela’s Way, has been reversed by Judge Joseph McNamara, of Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
The BZA had ruled that Todd and Melisa Crandell were in violation of a rule banning farm livestock from being kept on lots of less than one acre and/or in a platted subdivision.
Stevin Groth, the Crandell’s attorney, argued to the BZA that the pot belly pig kept by his clients was not livestock, but was a pet and a comfort animal.
The issue began more than a year ago when the Sylvania Township Zoning Department received an anonymous complaint that a pig was being kept at that address. The township compliance officer was unable to verify that complaint, but photos of the pig outside of the home were sent to the department last June.
The zoning department found that the family was in violation of the Sylvania Township Zoning Resolution, which prohibits maintaining a farm animal/livestock on a lot of one acre or less.
After a notice of violation was sent to the property owners, Mr, and Mrs. Crandell filed their appeal.
The basis of that appeal was that the Crandell’s wanted to keep the pig as a “comfort animal and domesticated pig,” at their home and that the animal was a pet and not livestock.
During the BZA hearing, Mr. Groth argued that the pig, named Milo, spends most of his time indoors and is treated as a pet.
He added that it is beneficial for Mr. Crandell for generalized anxiety issues and that a licensed professional had submitted a letter to that effect to the board.
Mr. Crandell told the BZA that Milo was initially brought home as a pet when the family lived elsewhere and that he has bonded with it.
The BZA wrote that the zoning resolution does not state that the animal must actually be used as a farm animal or livestock, “but only that it be within” that class of animals. They noted that pigs are specifically included in the resolution prohibiting such animals.
In his decision, Judge McNamara wrote that Ohio legal definitions “raise the question of whether a species of animal typically categorized as “livestock” may qualify as a ‘pet’ depending on circumstances.
He noted that rabbits are considered to be both in different sections of Ohio law and that even dogs find their way into legal “agriculture” when included under animal husbandry.
He added in his decision that under Ohio law livestock means an animal “generally used for food or in the production of food.”
The judge cited a number of Ohio cases in which a pot belly pig was determined to be a pet.
In this case, he wrote, “The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that Milo is functionally a house pet and is therefore not subject to the prohibition (against keeping livestock).
Written by: Mike Jones, Public Information Officer
Posted: June 4, 2019
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