EL board says no to pot-bellied pig

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – The Village Board decided Monday that it is not Strawberry season in Elkhart Lake.

In this case, Strawberry is a pet pot-bellied pig and the board denied owner Christi Sadiq’s request to keep the animal at her East Street residence.

The village’s ordinances prohibit the keeping of a number of different animals within the village limits, including pigs. Sadiq, who operates Christi’s Inn on North Lake Street, has kept the pig, named Strawberry, at her home for the past several summers.

Made aware of the village ordinance, she was seeking permission from the board to allow her to keep the pig.

“Strawberry lives in our house here in Elkhart Lake. She lives here five months out of the year,” Sadiq testified in a public hearing before the board. She winters in Florida and takes the pig with her there until returning in the spring to reopen her inn.

“She is not outside, there is no cage for her and no barn,” Sadiq stated. “She sleeps in our house, sleeps on the bed with our dogs and she’s litter box trained.

“She does access our fully-enclosed back yard, but nobody can see her,” through the vinyl fencing surrounding the yard, Sadiq added.

She noted that pot-bellied pigs are allowed as domestic pets in many other communities, including the city of Sheboygan. Sadiq presented a letter from a police dispatcher there noting that they have not received a single complaint over the last several years about pot-bellied pigs, as opposed to numerous noise, nuisance and other complaints about dogs and cats.

“Strawberry is our family pet,” Sadiq explained. “It’s absolutely no different than your family dog or cat. She’s more emotionally in touch with our family than a dog is. She’s been at our property two years and nobody has noticed her or known she was there.”

Sadiq presented petitions supporting her request to keep the pig and said there have been no complaints or opposition from her neighbors.

Her request was supported by two village residents at the hearing.

“Pot-bellied pigs are extremely domesticated animals. Strawberry adds something interesting to this town,” Katie Spies stated.

“She’s very domesticated and she does not live outside the house,” added Lindsay Schmahl.

But opposition to the request was expressed by several people at the hearing.

“Christi chose this pet before she even checked to see if it is allowed in the village. That’s not a problem for the people in Elkhart Lake, that’s Christie’s problem,” Marcia Schamberger told the board.

“I object to changing the ordinance. We have ordinances and I hope you will follow them,” she concluded.

Former trustee Steve Kapellen noted that, in his years on the board, “We dealt with a lot of issues with animals. We have an ordinance, let’s enforce it.”

Trustees Richard Sadiq, Lynn Shovan and Terri Knowles recused themselves from the hearing the board’s vote on the request, but Shovan spoke at the hearing to express her opposition.

“She has been in violation of this ordinance for two years,” Shovan said of Christi Sadiq. “We have ordinances that need to be followed.”

During the board’s discussion of the request, Village President Alan Rudnick thanked everyone who spoke at the hearing for their comments and the respectful manner in which they were made.

Rudnick then expressed his opposition to granting the request.

“This is precedent setting,” he observed. “If we allow a permit for a pig, I know we’re going to get requests for chickens, goats, horses and who know what else. I think those are better on a farm.

“Even though it was mentioned that some of our tourists love the pig, tourism is our number one industry in this village and I’d hate to be know as ‘we’re the village that has this pig.’”

Trustee Geoff Bray wondered if the village would face any liability issues “if we go against our ordinance. I’m concerned about that.”

With Knowles, Richard Sadiq and Shovan not voting, the board voted 4-0 not to grant Christi Sadiq’s request to keep the pig.

When she said that she would be leaving for Florida for the winter at the end of September and would take Strawberry with her, the board voted to allow Sadiq to keep the pot-bellied pig at her home until Sept. 26.

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