'I'm devastated': WA council forces family to remove pet mini-pigs

The pigs have been a fixture of the family's life for many years.
The pigs have been a fixture of the family's life for many years. Photo: Supplied

Miniature pig owners in Western Australia are calling for the animal to be considered a pet under local laws after a council told a South West family its two porky pets could no longer live at their property.

Arnold and Olivia, 2, are mini pigs who have lived with their owners, Amanda Novotny, her husband and their two children, aged 11 and 14, for most of their lives.

The family live on an 830 square metre block in Kingston, near Bunbury, with their pigs spending most of their time inside the house or in the backyard.

Miniature pig owners want the animal to be considered a pet.
Miniature pig owners want the animal to be considered a pet. Photo: Supplied

"We've had Arnold and Olivia for nearly two years and everybody's happy, we love them, all the neighbours love them, the kids walk by on the way to and from school and say hi," Ms Novotny said.

"They still are a pig but they're mini pigs, they are like dog size, we wash them every week, they live inside with us, they sleep on the kids' beds, they're our pets.

"They are very clever animals."

In February, the family got a knock at the door from an officer at the Shire of Harvey telling them the pigs could not stay at the house, and gave them 14 days to have the animals removed.

The pets are staying with a mini pig breeder at Lake Clifton at a cost of $100 a week, and three months on, Ms Novotny has been unsuccessful during discussions with the council to allow them to return.

"I wrote an appeal letter and they sent out letters to all of my neighbours and all the neighbours said they were happy, no problems, then we went to a shire meeting thinking we were going to get them back and when they said no we were absolutely devastated," she said.


"We can't understand why we can't have them, they're not big animals.

"We're sad that there are other people with chooks who squawk, dogs that bark, it's just a bit sad that they're not willing to compromise."

Miniature pigs weigh between 15 to 30 kilograms while farm animals weigh up to 500 kilograms, making the laws which ban residential property owners from owning a pig out-dated, a spokeswoman for the Miniature Pigs and Pet Pig Association of Australia told ABC South West.

"Originally in the depression years, when farmers bought their animals to town when they came to find work, that's when the government stepped in and said no to farm animals," she said.

Shire of Harvey president Tania Jackson said the pigs were not compliant with local laws and had been brought to the council's attention due to a complaint.

"It was really complaint driven... to keep what was basically a farm animal in a suburban area made us look at what law that would fit under and our local law for animals other than domestic pets would be that there would have to be a 15 metre buffer between [the pig pen] and the neighbouring land use so in your average 600 metre block, it's not achievable," she said.

"The determination of council at this point is our final determination."

Ms Novotny could appeal the decision to the State Administrative Tribunal, the last resort for issues which cannot be resolved through traditional processes.

"My kids are heartbroken... I feel really sad for them and I just want to get them back," she said. 

Curtin University wildlife biologist Bill Bateman has previously told WAtoday mini pigs often made good pets.

"When people do get pigs as pets they realise that a pig is really like a dog, it enjoys company, it's intelligent, it likes the company of other animals," he said.  

"They've got a large brain, so they're very good at working things out. They're self-aware, they recognise themselves in mirrors, they can work out cues to carry out tasks."