Is a potbellied pig a household pet or an animal that belongs in a barn with other livestock? That was the question of the day at the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

And the answer is 7 household pets, at least in the case of one Oceano couple who/ve been fighting to keep their four potbellied pigs as pets.

The supervisors voted 3-2 to classify potbellied pigs as household pets, so Jim and Julie McDougall can at least keep three of the four pigs that they own. Supervisors Harry Ovitt and Jerry Lenthall dissented.

In November, the County Planning Commission ruled potbellied pigs aren/t household pets and classified the animals as livestock, which are prohibited from being kept on residential lots.

The commissioners also ruled that the McDougalls, who also own four dogs and two cats, were in violation of the county/s land use ordinance, Title 22, that only allows three animals in single-family residential zoning.

The couple appealed the commissioners/ ruling and also sought a variance from the supervisors to keep all 10 of their animals, which was unanimously denied by the board.

&#8220It/s not the variety of the animal; it/s the number,C said 2nd District Supervisor Shirley Bianchi about why she couldn/t support the variance.

However, the supervisors did waive almost ,1,200 in appeal fees that the McDougalls paid to go before the Planning Commission and supervisors. The supervisors agreed to waive the fees based on faulty information the couple was given by County Division of Animal Services.

When the McDougalls moved to Oceano almost four years ago, they called Animal Services to inquire if they could own potbellied pigs, and the couple were told they could. They also asked how many animals they could have and were told there wasn/t a limit.

The McDougalls said they never would have rescued their potbellied pigs if they knew the animals weren/t permitted in residential neighborhoods.

The McDougalls live on a quarter-acre lot at the end of private residential drive. Last year, their neighbors filed complaints with the county over the pigs and the number of animals the McDougalls own.

Instead of having to give up any of their animals, the McDougalls plan to move.

April Charlton can be reached at 489-4206, Ext. 5016, or acharlton

@santamariatimes.com.

March 1, 2006

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