Vietnamese pot-bellied pig is a pet, can stay in its home, judge rules

‘For Arnold, Country Brook is the place to be,’ Warren County judge says.

A Vietnamese pot-bellied pig will get to stay with her owners after a Warren County Common Pleas Court judge adopted the magistrate’s decision that determined the animal was a household pet and not livestock.

In the five-page decision filed late Tuesday, Judge Donald E. Oda II said he found no error in law in Magistrate Paige Crossley-Tate determination that “Arnold Ziffel” 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.

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Oda said it was “clear from the testimony that Arnold was a domesticated animal — house trained much like the family dog. Arnold is not kept by the defendant for any other purpose other than as a household pet. There was no evidence that Arnold was being bred, marketed, or raise for food.

“For all intents and purposes (the) defendant’s pot bellied pig, Arnold, is a domestic household pet. Therefore, not in violation of Country Brook’s CCRs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions).”

Oda adopted the April 21 magistrate’s decision in its entirety and overruled the Country Brook Home Owner Association’s objections. He also agreed the HOA should pay costs.

“For Arnold, Country Brook is the place to be,” Oda said in his decision entry.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

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 Price’s Siberian husky, Jax, and also spends time outdoors in their large fenced yard, Rick Price said.

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.

The HOA also claimed that the violation of keeping livestock on the property has caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm, damages and expenses to the HOA and its members.

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.

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In her 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.”

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.

In their 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.

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