Residents add their names to Jessica’s web

Bella, a four-year-old potbellied pig, picks out her pumpkin for Halloween in this Oct. 12 photo. Bella is the subject of a petition by Jessica Deck and her family, aiming to change city codes to allow her to be kept as a pet in city limits by the Deck family.

PAYETTE — In the classic E.B. White children’s novel “Charlotte’s Web,” a little girl got help from a clever web-spinning spider to save a livestock pig from the slaughterhouse. In Payette, newcomer Jessica Deck is spinning a web of supporters to get her family’s pet potbellied pig, Bella, welcomed by the city of Payette.

Deck aims to get sections of the Payette City Code changed to pave the way for Bella to reside in the city. Section 6.15.005 strictly prohibits swine from being kept as livestock within city limits, while Section 6.04.115 goes so far as to deem the keeping of swine as pets there a misdemeanor.

In her change.org petition to the city of Payette and Mayor Jeff Williams started on Oct. 8, Deck wrote about the four-year-old pet’s family-friendly nature.

“She has never harmed a person and loves people as much as she loves her snacks she has been with us since she was 6 weeks old,” wrote Deck. “She is fixed microchipped and has taken to our family as any loved animal should lets make a difference and help our small town realize that pigs can be pets she is an inside/outside piggy. She’s completely [housebroken], has a litter box and loves to enjoy days soaking up sun as well … I couldn’t imagine having to re-home her due to the city ordinances!”

As of press time on Oct. 13, the petition had 1,219 signatures.

In an email to the newspaper on Oct. 12, Deck expressed that she believes that despite the petition exceeding her original goal of 500 signatures, more help is still needed.

“It’s reassuring yet still concerning that it might not be enough,” wrote Deck. “Even though at the City Council meeting last week, there were a couple of the Council members who leaned towards granting our request to change the ordinance, the overall consensus was to deny our request.”

Deck said Bella first came into the family’s lives as they dealt with issues of their own.

“We are a family of faith. At the time that we received Bella, we had many challenges occurring in our Family that are consistent with raising a family in these very challenging times. We truly think that Bella was an angel from Heaven the way in which she immediately became a vital part of our family. It was like she could feel or knew when we needed her to cuddle us, or push that cute face of hers into what we were doing, resulting in such a well needed smile, laugh or comfort.”

Deck said while she understands there may be those who oppose Bella being allowed in Payette, she asks them to see her as more than some pig.

“We respect their opinion and even opposition,” noted Deck. “‘A rose does not answer its enemies with words, but with beauty.’ If they knew and saw Bella the way she is with our family, they would appreciate her beauty & love her the way that we do.”

Bella will be staying with family members living outside the city as the family makes her case. Deck said Bella has noticed what is happening, and has shown she doesn’t want to leave.

“We were given two weeks to make the transition and we will wait until that last day to take her there. She can already tell just from the vibe of our family that something is up; She has been inseparable from my children, even more than usual.”

Deck expressed that she doesn’t aim to create a nuisance by fighting for Bella, just a place for her in Payette.

“We respect and appreciate the arguments brought up in the City Council meeting. Nobody wants to live next to a pig pen and everything that comes with it. However, if the pig is contained in the household, using a litter box with the contents of the litter box being disposed of in a manner consistent with any other litter box, this should be acceptable.”

In the comments section of the petition, Irmgard Guterson made an opinion about the City Code clear.

“Minipigs are just like dogs! Bella doesn’t harm anybody, why do you want to harm her?”

Another commenter, Ronaldo Kohn added, “The family has the right and duty to stay with her and protect her.”

City officials did not respond to requests for comment before press time.

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