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City Proposes Changing Law to Allow Emotional Support Pig Who Acts Like a Dog

by Bethany Meissner

Hamlet “barks, He plays. He swims in his pool every day,” says his owner Stacey Fox. However, Hamlet, despite his dog-like behaviors is not a dog. Hamlet is a pig.

According to Fox 35, that’s where the trouble is. Stacey and Hamlet live in Orange City which does not allow pigs in residential zones. When the city received a complaint about Hamlet, they gave Stacey two weeks to get rid of him. Stacey told reporters that Hamlet is “part of our family. I can’t imagine having to get rid of him.”

Photo Credit: Fox 35 WOFL

In addition to being a beloved pet and member of Stacey’s family, he is also an emotional support animal. Stacey says that Hamlet helps with her bipolar disorder and severe depression. Emotional support animals don’t have the same protections that service animals do, but Stacey appealed to the Orange City council using the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Stacey made her request at the June 26 City Council meeting, according to the Beacon Online News. Stacey brought a statement from a physician’s assistant stating that Hamlet “has been able to increase [Stacey’s] joy, decrease her anxiety and helps her sleep at night” as part of his emotional support work.

In addition, she noted that none of her neighbors had complained to her during the two years that she has had Hamlet, and 53 of those neighbors signed a petition in favor of Stacey keeping Hamlet. Orange City’s official attorney, William Reischmann, drafted a memo advising that the council make an accommodation for Hamlet to live with Stacey, citing the Federal Fair Housing Act. That act prohibits discrimination based on a disability and the refusal to make reasonable accommodations to rules, polices or practices when such accommodations are necessary to allow a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.” You can learn more about the act by reading the joint statement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice regarding reasonable accommodations under the act.

We believe each and every animal impacts our lives and ultimately plays a role in improving our collective well-being – whether or they’re an emotional support animal, pet, or farm animal. All animals, not just dogs and cats, carry a halo above them. That halo shines brightest when nurtured in a genuine, heartfelt, two-way, human-animal bond. We strive to earn our halo every single day. We support the all animals mission of The Humane Society of the United States that rejects the “factory farm” model. We actively work to evolve all animal husbandry practices to a more humane and environmentally sustainable state. Recognizing the halos above animals like Hamlet is part of that work. We’re proud of Orange City for being flexible, and proud of Stacey for her tenacity to fight for Hamlet. Both she and Hamlet have more than earned their halos!