A judge has decided Somers Point resident Morgan Slaughter can keep her pet pig, Sheldon.
In early October, Slaughter received a notice in the mail saying she had violated a city ordinance that prohibits livestock on residential property and had two weeks to get rid of her pet pig or risk 30 days in prison and a fine of as much as $2,000. Slaughter had bought Sheldon in April from a breeder in Florida and had been raising him in her home as a domesticated house pet.
“He eats out of a bowl twice a day. He walks on a leash, and you won’t hear a peep out of him,” she recently said.
Sheldon is a mix between Juliana and an African breed, and at 10 months old weighs about 30 pounds, which is about as big as he will get.
Slaughter decided to fight the city to keep her pet pig and took to Facebook to help rally support, creating the Operation Save Our Sheldon page, which as of Thursday had 5,927 likes from people as far away as Scotland. The page includes cute pictures of Sheldon dressed in a hot dog Halloween costume and napping on his owner’s lap, as well as updates on the family’s fight to keep him.
“It has gone crazy,” Slaughter said of the Facebook page. “I’ve got postings from people from everywhere — Florida, Texas, Michigan.”
It might have helped. On Tuesday, the charges against Slaughter were dismissed in Somers Point Municipal Court with the assistance of Atlantic City criminal defense attorney James J. Leonard Jr., who took on the case pro bono at the request of his 8-year-old daughter, who heard about the animal and wanted her father to help.
Somers Point had said Slaughter violated the municipal code that regulates the keeping of dogs, cats and other animals. However, “other animals” did not directly mention livestock at the time when Slaughter bought Sheldon.
The code municipal code was amended at a Sept. 12 council meeting to directly prohibit the keeping of “fowl and livestock” within the city, including “any animal customarily found on a farm or typically raised for use and sale, including, but not limited to, swine, pigs, hogs.”
Slaughter said she will have to apply for a variance but can keep Sheldon. She said she’s extremely relieved with this outcome.
“I wish it didn’t take getting a lawyer, but he’s our pet. We weren’t going to just give him up,” Slaughter said.
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