Planning and Zoning deals setback to porcine progeny

Potbellied pig Bella is seen with Deck family chilldren Laithen, left, and Rezzstyn Bullard in this 2019 photo. The family is working toward legalizing Bella as a pet in Payette, as current laws strictly prohibit her in city limits.

PAYETTE — The Deck family was dealt a major setback in their efforts to get their pet potbellied pig, Bella, welcomed legally by the city of Payette. On Thursday, Dec. 17, the Payette Planning and Zoning Commission voted to take no action on the family’s request to amend Payette City Codes to legalize small pigs to be kept as pets within city limits. 

Two separate city codes prohibit pigs from being kept anywhere in the city. The family was first notified they were in violation of the codes on Sept. 9, having moved to Payette in May.

Payette resident Jessica Deck, who is spearheading the effort to get Bella legalized in the city, participated in the meeting remotely due to current COVID-19 restrictions. She expressed to the newspaper in an email immediately following the meeting that she’s not happy that Bella is being treated as just some pig by city officials.

“In my opinion, [that was] the most unprofessional meeting I’ve ever been involved in,” Deck wrote. “I am very embarrassed as a citizen of Payette to have our members of this city to be so rude, and so unprofessional as they took [their] stance as a laughing matter.”

In her presentation to the commission, Deck cited Jaimee Hubert, founder of the American Mini Pigs Association.

“They do not bark and are not a nuisance to neighbors, in fact they are able to enrich people’s lives and even have been known to help diabetes patients detect low blood sugar, help autistic children and other people with disabilities as a companion animal,” wrote Hubert in her statement to the commission. “Bella, the pig in question is in fact registered as a PET through the American Mini Pig Association. She is NOT a farm animal. In fact, the veterinarians across the United States refer to them as “exotic animals” and as mini pigs, not as farm hogs or swine. The pig in question is fully vetted, fixed, microchipped and papered. For any city to not do their research and to forcibly take family pets away on simple misconceptions is such a shame.”

Between tree trimming, painting, cement sidewalk work and a planned fencing project, Deck said in her presentation to the commission that her family has invested $31,700 plus “our sweat” into their Payette property.

Deck expressed that while this agenda request was struck down, she’s not going to let the city keep her penned up.

“We will be getting a lawyer involved and on to our next step,” she added. “I’m concerned of the leadership of this town, I’ve never seen anything so unprofessional and with all the facts we [in fact] did email to them and proposals they had and were aware that this matter was most certainly a public matter rather then a resident matter.”

City officials declined a request for comment from the commission for this report. Details from the meeting could not be shared as the discussion and vote on the request was in executive session, according to city officials. 

Bella is staying with family members in Caldwell while the Deck family’s efforts continue.

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