A village in upstate New York is trying to tear apart 54-year-old Wyverne Flatt and his 100-pound pet pig, but the New York man is desperately fighting to keep her.
According to new legislation passed by the upstate New York village of Canajoharie, Wyverne Flatt is not allowed to keep his potbellied pig, Ellie, because he is not supposed to have domesticated farm animals on his property.
Flatt could face criminal charges and heavy fines should he not comply, but the man claims that Ellie is his emotional support pig, and that she isn’t harming anyone.
Collecting “signed affidavits” from neighbors in the area that he plans to bring to court in his defense, Wyverne Flatt told the New York Post that his neighbors didn’t even know he had a pig at home.
“She’s cleaner than anybody else’s cat or dog,” Flatt stated, adding that she “makes no noise” and doesn’t “stink.”
He recalled first getting a pet while going through a “really bad divorce.” He said Ellie became his emotional support animal after that.
“My mother passed away and all these things happened in life,” he continued. “I got used to her being around, she gets up on the couch and watches TV and snuggles up with me, she’s a real sweet little animal and she’s a part of my family.”
Stories have made headlines of bizarre “support animals” and their owners in the past. A woman tried to get her emotional support peacock on a United Airlines flight back in 2018, but Wyverne Flatt and his emotional support pig weren’t trying to do anything when the court came knocking.
Mayor Jeff Baker told The Daily Gazette that the law was not meant to target any specific person or animal, and that it had been on their agenda for years due to people in the village with horses “and stuff like that.”
Nonetheless, Flatt feels like he’s the only one suffering from the new legislation, which could result in over $18,000 worth of fines and six months in jail (besides for having to say goodbye to Ellie).
“I think all they did with that law is they are going to be able to pick and choose what you’re allowed to have as an emotional support animal,” Flatt said. “They are trying to figure out another way to get what they want and bully everybody else.”
According to the Gazette, Wyverne Flatt and Ellie have appeared in court over 14 times in the past two years to fight the law, and he even got the pig successfully registered with United Support Animals as a certified emotional support animal.
Court documents later showed that Village Health Officer Kenneth Riley spoke with his primary care provider who agreed to rescind support that the pig was his emotional support animal. They were shown images of Flatt’s apartment, according to the court, and decided that the space was too small.
Flatt sweared, however, that Village officials never been to his house to see his living conditions, which was clear by how his house was described as an “apartment.” He said that he has a “very nice backyard,” which he shared photos of with local WNYT reporters, and that he was even in the process of remodeling the first floor.
“Resoundingly, everybody thinks I’m right,” he told reporters. “I’ve got slews of lawyers calling me and are trying to help me out with this, telling me they can’t believe that this town is doing this.”
“They’re violating my civil rights,” he stated. “I have the right to have an emotional support animal as long as she’s not a nuisance and she absolutely is not.”
Flatt is scheduled to appear in court on March 21, where he plans to fight the village’s legislation to the very end.
“She’s my pet and she’s like anybody’s pet. You come home from work, you hang out with your animals and you love on them,” he said.
“She’s happy here,” he continued, and “I don’t know why they’re coming after me so hard over my little pig…it’s just crazy.”