Move over, chickens — miniature pigs are the next farm animal moving from the barnyard to the backyard.
Eagan is the latest suburb to let residents keep miniature pigs as long as the animals are spayed or neutered and weigh less than 200 pounds and owners obtain a $20 permit. Other restrictions are the same as those for dogs.
Suburbs allowing miniature pigs — Vietnamese potbellied pigs are one variety — include Minnetonka, New Hope, Shoreview, Lino Lakes, West St. Paul, Crystal and Bloomington.
“From a public regulation of domestic pets perspective, I kind of fail to see the difference [between pigs and other pets],” said Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire. “All of the same challenges are there with any animal that large, with the exception of the uniqueness of a pig.”
The question of whether to permit small swine on residentially zoned properties arose in January when a citizen interested in pet pigs brought it up. The City Council approved the measure at an April 5 meeting by a 3-to-2 vote.
“I consider them to be just like a dog,” said Mike Wisniewski, the resident who raised the question. “In other cities and places across the country, it’s just like normal.”
But some city officials expressed concerns about allowing pigs on lots smaller than 5 acres. Council Member Gary Hansen said the city doesn’t have facilities to impound a 200-pound pig if an owner violates the ordinance. He also said the 200-pound weight restriction is too high.
Though she voted in favor of the amendment, Council Member Cyndee Fields wondered whether the city would take away pigs that grew larger than the limit.
Two residents wrote letters objecting to the amendment.
“Pigs in the city aren’t going to help home values or neighborhoods,” wrote Rick Goetz. “If I wanted to live in a farming community and smell pigs and chicken feces, I would have purchased a house in Farmington or another agricultural community.”
Eagan approved keeping chickens in 2012 and beekeeping in 2015. Since then, 25 residents have applied to own chickens and five to keep bees, said City Clerk Christina Scipioni.
When she spoke with officials from other cities, most said few pig permits are issued because pigs are “a lot of work,” Scipioni said.
Intelligent and clean
Miniature pigs can be a variety of different breeds. Some types, like the Vietnamese potbellied pig, have been kept as pets since the 1980s. According to research done by Scipioni, miniature pigs are usually 80 to 160 pounds and stand 20 inches from ground to shoulder.
Breeka Li Goodlander of Champlin has owned her 100-pound pig, George, for two years. When she’s out walking him, she tries to educate people about pigs, warning them that even pigs marketed as “micro” or “teacup” grow to be George’s size.
Pigs are intelligent, clean animals, she said.
George potty-trained himself by going to the door when he needed to go out, she said.
She received special permission to have George in her Champlin apartment because he’s her emotional assistance animal, she said.
“I would think it would be great if more cities allowed them,” she said. “They’re up and coming.”
When Goodlander and her boyfriend were recently in the market to buy a house, they limited their search to cities that allow pigs. Their new home is in Crystal. “We’re buying a house based upon a pig,” she said. “That’s crazy.”