Twinkie the therapy pig of boy with Down syndrome at center of local law dispute
Daily Mail: This little piggy, a three-pound, seven-week-old therapy pet is at the centre of a local law dispute that threatens to steal her away from the eight-year-old boy who loves her.
Tiny Twinkie was bought by the Ray family of Coral Springs to help Kason who has Down Syndrome with his development, but the city have told them that pigs are not technically allowed to be kept as pets.
Facing a fine of up to $500 a day until mom Heather can prove that Twinkie is medically needed as a therapy pet, the family have said that despite what city authorities are saying, they will be keeping the little Juliana pig no matter what.
Having spent the past three weeks with the Ray’s, the miniscule animal has already made a positive impact on Kason. ‘You know, he does get mad. He throws fits,’ said Heather. ‘He doesn’t like things and Twinkie has a very calming effect on him. It mellows him out, it calms him down. ‘It’s so good for him. He loves her so much.
However, the family have fallen foul of the Florida city’s code which prohibits any pigs from being domesticated. ‘Coral Springs code does not allow pigs as pets, because livestock is not allowed,’ said city spokesman Bob Goehrig to CBS 4. In a written statement to ABC News on Monday, the city’s communication and marketing director, Bob Goehrig, wrote: ‘A city ordinance does not allow pigs as pets. Pigs are considered livestock. If the Rays can show us there is a medical necessity and can bring documentation, we’ll be glad to look into it.‘
Heather Ray explained that the family can’t have a dog or a rabbit because her husband and son have allergies that are severe. The concerned mother told ABC News that she had done her research before she purchased the pig and when she learned of Coral Springs strict restrictions she contacted officials to request a waiver. Despite her son’s disability, on October 15th city officials said they couldn’t grant her the waiver that she wanted.
However, Ray said that she had sent the city all the documentation that they had asked for, including a letter from her son’s doctor which supported the purchase of the animal for medical reasons. The letter from Dr. Juan Carlos Millon said that Kason had ‘certain limitations coping with stress and anxiety…I am prescribing an emotional support animal that will assist Kason in coping with his disability.’
In addition, the combative mother has conferred with the U.S. Department of Justice which has told her she may have grounds to keep Twinkie because of federal laws that protect Americans with disabilities.
Regardless, the process is due to be drawn out because Twinkie cannot be registered as a therapy pet until she is one-year-old. Ray has already said that she will be fully prepared for that date and is taking a course to become a certified therapy pet handler.
‘For children with special needs, anyone with special needs, acceptance is a big deal,’ said Heather. ‘Unfortunately in our society, you know, people with special needs just are not always accepted…an animal loves you no matter what.
‘They don’t care what you look like, they don’t care how you talk, how you walk, you know, they don’t care, as long as you love them they love you unconditionally, so that’s very important to him, for us to have that for him.’
To date, Twinkie has not left the Ray family residence and therefore has not fallen foul of any city fines.’They haven’t threatened us with fines, not yet, no, not yet,’ said Heather. ‘However they’ve made it clear that a person could be fined up to $500 a day.‘
I understand the rule against raising livestock yet this is clearly not the intention of having Twinkie. Hopefully the mom can successfully petition the city and make them realize what a bunch of swine they are.