Mini pig is a misnomer, according to the city of Pasco.
While mini piglets may not reach a half-ton like their commercial relatives, they still can grow up to 18 inches tall and 150 pounds.
That’s why city officials are likely to deny a request to classify them as pets, and continue calling them “farm animals” in the municipal code.
A resident asked for the amendment during a Pasco City Council meeting last year.
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“Surprisingly enough, although mini pigs is a common term, they can get large,” said Rick White, Pasco’s city and economic development director.
“That was one of the cautions expressed by our neighboring cities of Kennewick and Richland and the animal control authority, that they do get large,” White added. “Larger than people think when they buy something that might be called a buttercup or pixie or mini pig kind of nomenclature.”
White advised council members at the Feb. 13 meeting that the Pasco Planning Commission recommended no change to the municipal code. That decision came after the commission discussed the issue at a December meeting and held a hearing in January.
The City Council originally directed the Planning Commission to consider three options — allow mini pigs outright, with appropriate code revisions; allow them through the special permit process; or continue to prohibit them as pets on lots smaller than a half acre, and keep the farm animal designation.
The resident who made the request last fall was notified directly of both Planning Commission meetings, and did not show up, White said.
Now the issue is up for a City Council vote at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at City Hall, 525 N. Third Ave.
The motion before council members is to agree with the Planning Commission and continue classifying all pigs, including mini varieties, as farm animals.
Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik said she is comfortable with that recommendation, especially since animal control authorities say they don’t have the proper facilities to house surrendered or abandoned pigs.
“I have to tell you, just the erroneous labeling of mini pig, teacup pig, micro, pixie and pocket, I can see why people are surprised when they continue to grow,” she said.
According to the American Mini Pig Association, the animal comes in many shapes and sizes and has been crossbred over many generations and mixed with different breeds. Terms like teacup, micro, pocket and nano are used to describe sizes, and are not breeds or types of miniature pigs.
“By definition, any breed of pig averaging 350 pounds and under is considered a ‘miniature’ breed of swine,” the AMPA website says. “Any breed averaging 150 pounds or less is considered a mini pig.”
A Planning Commission report said members determined that unspayed mini pig females suffer from PMS and strong mood swings, while “intact male mini pigs produce a pungent odor, in addition to displaying other unpleasant traits.”
The report said prohibiting pigs as pets advances “the public health and welfare” of the city.
There have been seven verified pig-related complaints, which resulted in five Code Enforcement Board cases between 2008 and 2016, the report said.
White told council members that farm animals are permitted in R-S-10, 12 and 20 zones on lots with the appropriate amount of acreage.
Property owners who want to have farm animals need 12,000 square feet minimum, with 10,000 extra for each farm animal unit, meaning 22,000 square feet — or just over a half-acre — is required, he said. An animal unit would qualify as three pigs allowed on a 22,000-square-foot lot, or one horse or cow.
Councilman Bob Hoffmann questioned if pigs are common in Pasco or west Pasco on half-acre lots.
White said there are probably about a dozen within city limits.
“Most people do not appreciate pigs,” he said. “Even though they’re I think a good food product, as the animal control noted, they make a mess of the area they’re in. It’s more typical to have either sheep, cows or horses.”