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'Emotional support pig' remains at home, defying Amherst's zoning code

Pork Chop, the 200-pound potbellied pig whose brief escape in April roiled his Eggertsville neighborhood, remains at home in the hamlet, in violation of Amherst's zoning code.

That's according to the town officials who are pursuing the case against Pork Chop's owners in Amherst Housing Court.

Kevin and Dianna Kruss risk hundreds of dollars in fines, or the loss of the pig, if they can't find another place to stay for the porker in Amherst or elsewhere.

Town Prosecutor Jeffrey Marion said the Krusses must comply with town law, which was recently strengthened to authorize the seizure of pigs and other livestock. But he said Amherst officials have tried to be patient with them.

"We understand you can't wave a wand and make a 300-pound pig go away," Marion said.

Pork Chop enjoyed a brief taste of freedom on the morning of April 22, busting out from the ranch-style home on Castle Court where the Krusses keep him.

He ended up on nearby Coronation Drive, where police and neighbors finally got a hold of him and, with his owner, brought him back home.

The town Building Department later cited the Krusses for code violations, because livestock is allowed in Amherst only on properties zoned suburban agricultural.

The Krusses, whose home is zoned residential, sought a temporary use permit from the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals. They argued the pig was an emotional support animal for their daughter-in-law, but the board rejected their request.

['Pork Chop': emotional support pig or Amherst zoning violation?]

The town has the authority to send a code enforcement officer to the home on a weekly basis to see if the pig is still there and, if so, to add to the $400 in fines the Krusses already face, Marion said.

The prosecutor, however, said the town and its Housing Court typically give homeowners time to address the violation and, in return, to dismiss the case against them.

"We're not using this to make an example out of anybody," Marion said, adding, "Pork Chop is not going to jail. Nobody in the house is going to jail."

The Krusses most recently were in court Aug. 14 and must return Sept. 11.

Marion said that isn't a hard deadline, necessarily, but the town does have to enforce its laws.

In fact, the Town Board on Monday updated its dog code to add a lengthy definition of livestock – including goats, emus and turkeys – and to explicitly note the animals are subject to seizure and the owners are subject to fines and fees.

Town Attorney Stanley Sliwa said the case of the Eggertsville pig drove the changes that are "putting teeth" in the code, because a town justice had questioned whether he could order the pig removed from the home.

The town judges now have that authority, but it's not clear they will exercise it.

If the pig is seized and handed over to the SPCA Serving Erie County, for example, the Krusses may not be told where it ends up and may lose contact with the animal, Marion said.

The town would like to avoid that, if possible, Marion said.

Dianna Kruss had told WIVB-TV that the pig, and the relative who uses the emotional support animal, would move out by June 30.

Of course, that date has come and gone. Marion said he's heard the pig would be taken out of town but the Krusses have not committed to that in court.

Daniel Corbitt, associate director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, is representing the Krusses. He did not respond to messages seeking comment Friday.

'Pork Chop': emotional support pig or Amherst zoning violation?

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