Man Fights City Hall for Ability To Keep 'Emotional Support' Pigs

Larry Johnson's pet pigs have run afoul of Minneapolis' ban on city swine.


Man's best friend isn't always a dog, and that can cause you a lot of trouble when dealing with the city government.

For the past several weeks Minneapolis resident Larry Johnson has been trying to get several of his pet pigs back from the city's animal control department. The 59-year-old contractor and military veteran's quest has been complicated by high appeal fees and a prohibition on keeping pet pigs in city limits.

"I just want my four-legged daughter back…and her piglets," Johnson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Johnson's troubles started back in late June when he was taking his pets, a 22-pound pig named Carmel and her two piglets, to his farm in the nearby town of Glencoe. When Johnson stopped at a public golf course to let the pigs get some air, one of the piglets escaped and was grabbed by an animal control officer who had been on the scene.

The animal control officer, Johnson told the Tribune, refused to give the piglet back, and issued him two tickets. One was for keeping a pig in the city (all hoofed animals are illegal in Minneapolis without a special, 21-day permit), the other for being uncooperative.

Johnson was also told to take Carmel to the vet (since she appeared to be underweight and suffering from hair loss) before his seized piglet would be returned to him.

Local news site City Pages reports that Johnson took Carmel to his regular veterinarian, where she was given a clean bill of health. However, even after showing the vet's evaluation of Carmel to animal control, Johnson says they still refused to release the seized piglet.

Things escalated further when, in mid-July, police showed up at Johnson's house and seized his remaining two animals when he wasn't home.

City officials tell the Tribune that the pigs were taken primarily because it is illegal to have them in the city of Minneapolis.

In late July, Johnson, with the help of a neighbor, came up with the $1,200 needed to file an appeal to Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC) over the seizure of his pigs. After paying the money, Johnson was granted a hearing in just two days, leaving him with little time to find a lawyer.

Johnson lost that appeal. He had the option to appeal again but that would require him to pay $4,300 to the city to cover the costs of caring for his three pigs over the 90-day appeal process.

A GoFundMe was launched on Johnson's behalf, but it managed to raise only around $400 before the deadline to appeal, which was Monday.

MACC is still in possession of Johnson's pigs. A spokesperson for the agency says it is trying to find another home for them. Johnson, they argue, was an "unfit owner" who kept his animals in an "extremely unsanitary" condition.

Johnson says he has always been attentive to the needs of his pigs, and that they were well cared for at his home. Losing what he describes as his "emotional support" animals has been very stressful for him.

"I don't sleep at night because I'm used to Carmel snuggling in with me," Johnson told local CBS affiliate WCCO.

Local governments often have strict rules on what types of animals are permitted within city limits. Washington, D.C., bans hedgehogs. Don't even think about trying to keep a pet ferret in New York City.

And while the argument can be made that local health officials have a role to play in preventing pet animals from becoming a nuisance, there's no indication that any of Johnson's neighbors had a problem with the animals he kept.

Indeed, one of Johnson's neighbors has shown her support by launching a petition to try to secure the release of his pigs. A better move might be to lift the city's ban on keeping these animals in the first place.

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  1. Fake news. I lived for years in Minneapolis and never was given any hassle while I indulged my love for pigs. His problem was letting them have some freedom instead of keeping them on the correct path of supermarket to refrigerator to frying pan to mouth.

  2. mmmmm. bacon.

    1. The ads popping up on the reason page are for gas grills …. eerie, I tell you.

  3. Who controls the government in Minneapolis? Democrats.. of course they oppose pigs.. they are animals who usually live on farms own by those detestable rural, deplorable rednecks. If the guy has a pig be must also be a racist Trump supporter.

  4. The law sees “keeping pigs” in the city only in the context of “as livestock” and not recognizing keeping “as pets”.

    Much as the law often sees “keeping arms” only in the context of “as weapons” and not recognizing other traditionally lawful uses.

    1. Much as the law often sees “keeping arms” only in the context of “as weapons” and not recognizing other traditionally lawful uses.

      The other ‘traditionally lawful’ uses of arms are irrelevant if they’re not weapons.

      You don’t have the government recognize your right to keep and bear arms so that you can go target shooting.

  5. I hope he doesn’t sit next to me with his support pig next time I fly.

    1. I heard the airlines are cracking down.

  6. I think pig ownership should be mandatory in Minneapolis.

    1. Cops make lousy pets.

  7. Speaking of Minneapolis pigs wanting to be free:

    “Killer U.S. cop APPEALS his 12-year sentence for murdering an Australian yoga teacher – just days after being moved prisons for ‘his own safety’…

    “The lawyers said in a statement that the charge of third-degree murder was too harsh.”

    1. Speaking of Minneapolis pigs wanting to be free


  8. “I just want my four-legged daughter back…and her piglets,”

    Um, eww

    1. Here is the money quote:

      “I don’t sleep at night because I’m used to Carmel snuggling in with me,” Johnson told local CBS affiliate WCCO.

  9. What’s the over/under on a search of the house turning up pig placenta or afterbirth?

    Between his property in the city and his farm in the country, the guy can’t keep the A/C working in his truck or his house sufficiently sanitary for pigs to live in but he’s got time on his hands to breed his pig(s)?

    Cat Lady > Pig Man

  10. “Four legs good, two legs better”
    “Three legs best”. Tasty pig.

    1. “A pig like that, you don’t eat all at once!”

  11. Bureaucrats don’t have the IQ of the average pig. I think these types of anti-pig regulations are in response to their feelings of inadequacy.

    1. So no bureaucrats in Minneapolis?

      Sounds good to me.

  12. Missing from the comments so far – – – –

    ” issued him two tickets. One was for keeping a pig in the city (all hoofed animals are illegal in Minneapolis without a special, 21-day permit), the other for being uncooperative.”
    A ticket for ‘being uncooperative’ (!!???) Really?
    Blatant discrimination against hoofed animals. What if the pigs identify as cats? We good then? Because who can tell?

    1. LOL. I have nine cats. They all identify as human. I am petitioning the Federal Courts to get their voting rights instated. I will amend the suit to include pigs.

      1. How old are your cats? Are any of them over 18 (old enough to vote)?

        1. I have two which are currently over eighteen, so, yes. But, in order to acknowledge the “special circumstances” of cats, we need to measure their age in “cat years.” Therefore, any cat over the age of 2 1/2 should be eligible to vote.

      2. I’ll do the same, then insist on receiving their welfare checks as their caretaker.

        1. LOL. Cute.

          As for me, my cats would not qualify for welfare seeing as they are totally supported by donations from me (a not insubstantial amount, especially when one figures in healthcare). Hell, they are even mentioned in my Trust, so, no drain on the taxpayers.

  13. …the pigs were taken primarily because it is illegal to have them in the city of Minneapolis.

    Secondarily as punishment for being uncooperative. And it apparently is your right to a redress of grievances only so long as you can afford it.

  14. “Emotional support pigs?

    Does he mean Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters?

    1. No one has ever identified what those creatures are. They may originate from another Omani of reality, much like the Deep Ones, or Nyarlathotep.

  15. I’m torn between my innate opposition to government interference in the most inconsequential corners of our lives and my astonishment at the pathetic loser that refers to a pig as his “four-legged daughter”. It’s a pig. You lived for decades without it and you’ll live long after it’s gone.

  16. Emotional support animal + pet. Obey the law, get a dog or a cat, keep it at home.

    1. Oops I meant = pet

      1. At least you’re not shiftless.

  17. Personally, I’m only against this because it’s the government wanting to take the pigs away when it should be his family and close friends. The man sleeps with pigs and considers them his children. I don’t think he’s at the point where he can make proper decisions for himself.

    1. A lot of dog and cat owners think of their pets as their children. It’s not remotely uncommon.

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