Mississippi veteran wants potbelly pigs classified as pets

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OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. — A fight over livestock is sizzling in the city of Olive Branch. It boils down to the question of whether pigs can really be pets, and one man's push to get the law changed.

Kevin Bacon and Zoe are they the prized possessions of Marine Corps veteran Tony Shelley, who got the pigs after doing two tours in Iraq.

"He got them as piglets and has raised them. They helped with his PTSD," said his girlfriend, Jennifer Nelson.

Shelley was actually at the VA Hospital getting paperwork to certify them as therapy pets when WREG spoke to Nelson.

That's because he's found himself in the middle of a legal fight. They say a neighbor called Olive Branch authorities.

"Apparently said they had an increase of rats in their house," Nelson said. "I think he also went back and said there was a smell."

The city gave Shelley a municipal citation for violating an ordinance that livestock must be kept on at least one acre of land.

But Shelley and Nelson argue their animals are pets.

"Potbelly pigs aren't used as meat and they serve no other purpose than companionship," Nelson said.

That's why Shelley went before the Olive Branch Board of Aldermen, hoping his story gets the ordinance changed.

We contacted members of the Olive Branch Board of Aldermen to find out what they plan to do.

One told us they won't comment until Shelley's municipal citation goes through the courts. That hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8.

 

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