Are Pigs a Pet or a Problem?
Rules and regulations for community associations can be pretty extensive, and most people don't know everything about what they can and can't do. Last year, we wrote about pet restrictions in condo associations, but a recent news story led us to revisit the topic.
A Palm Beach County family is currently in a legal battle with their Homeowners' Association concerning their choice of pet. The Halperns has a 65 pound pot-bellied pig named Wilbur, and Wilbur has become quite an issue within the HOA. The Lake Worth community, Cypress Woods, rules clearly state that “only common household pets” are allowed in the community, and this means no livestock. Palm Beach County Commissioners voted to no longer consider pot-bellied pigs as livestock, but it is up to the HOA to outlaw pigs as pets. The HOA is trying to force Wilbur out, but the Halpern family is fighting back and has provided documentation that the rules never mention pot-bellied pigs.
One of the reasons the pet is so important to the family is because he really helps out Halpern's two kids, both of which have ADHD and one of which has Asperger Syndrome. Halpern has even had Wilbur registered and trained in an Animal Assisted Therapy Program at the Humane Society of Broward Country. She maintains that Wilbur helps her children come out of their shell and while a pot-bellied pig is not a common animal, it is more common that you would think. Lawyers for the HOA are in the process of verifying whether or not Wilbur qualifies as a service or emotional support animal. The family is fighting to keep their pet, but they cannot afford to move if the HOA forces Wilbur out.
An important lesson to take from this story is to always know what you are and aren't allowed to do according to the rules of your association. Associations can have a number of rules for animals including type and weight, number of pets and regulations on how to take care of pets. Homeowners need to make sure they know what is within their rights in an association, and associations need to be very clear on what they do and do not allow.