Pet pig ‘Arnold Ziffel’ can stay at Springboro-area home, court rules

A Warren County magistrate has decided that a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig is a family pet and is not livestock.

In a decision filed Wednesday in Warren County Common Pleas Court, Magistrate Paige Crossley-Tate determined “... that Arnold is a domesticated animal that is regularly kept and fed by the members of the household inside the house, and is in every way treated as a companion animal, as opposed to a livestock or utility animal.”

The Country Brook Homeowners’ Association filed a civil suit Feb. 1 against Richard (Rick) Lee Price Jr. for keeping a pig at his home on White Beech Court in Clearcreek Twp. Price and his wife, Katherine Bebe Price, a Vietnamese expatriate, later countered with a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming the pig is a pet, one that is traditional in Vietnam and an important part of that country’s culture and heritage.

In the decision, Crossley-Tate wrote that “The parties do not contest that Arnold is a domesticated animal. The resolution of this action turns on whether she is a “household pet.” “Household” is defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary as “all the persons who live in one house; family, or family and servants.” A “pet” is “an animal that is tamed or domesticated and kept as a companion or treated with fondness.”

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

She said the defendant’s keeping a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig on his property, by the common, ordinary definition of the terms used in the HOA’s Declaration and Covenants, does not breach his Covenant with the Homeowner’s Association

Crossley-Tate’s decision is a recommendation to Judge Donald E. Oda II who will sign off on her judgment. In addition, Crossley-Tate also recommended that the HOA pay the costs of this action.

Attorney Scott Oxley who represented the HOA, declined to comment on the decision. He said he received and reviewed the decision, which he has forwarded to his client.

Country Brook Homeowners’ Association had claimed its covenants, conditions and restrictions prohibit the keeping of livestock animals or poultry of any type, and notes that Rick Price is refusing to remove a “three hundred (300) pound hog” from the property. The Common Pleas Court suit further claims that the violation has caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm, damages and expenses to the HOA and to its members.

At the time, Price said the pig weighed about 150 pounds.

In their pending federal suit, the couple alleges that they are being discriminated against because housing rules were amended after the defendants learned of Katherine Price’s nation of origin.

“This is a textbook case of discrimination that is unlawful under The Fair Housing Act,” reads the U.S. District Court complaint filed by the Prices in the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati.

The couple purchased the female pig in November 2018 and named her Arnold Ziffel after a pig featured on the television show “Green Acres.” Arnold has a bed indoors just like the Prices Siberian husky, Jax, and also spends time outdoors in their large fenced yard, Rick Price said.

“She doesn’t cause any problems and doesn’t make noise,” he said. “She snores when she’s sleeping, but that’s more funny than anything.”

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