Hed: Tupelo woman pushes for pig pet permit
By Philip Moulden
A Tupelo woman is trying to gain a key to the city for her pet pig.
But for now, Northeast Mississippi’s ranking community is off limits to Reba, a 2-year-old pot-bellied pig that owner Vaughn Bullock calls “part of the family.”
Bullock, an Illinois native who moved to Tupelo from Ripley four months ago, obtained Reba in Ripley. Bullock said she didn’t realize pigs were prohibited in Tupelo.
But after a neighbor apparently complained about the porker’s presence a city codes enforcement officer advised Bullock the pig had to go.
Reba was banished to Ripley until Bullock can make her case before City Council. She will ask council members Tuesday to change the animal ordinance to admit pot-bellied pigs.
Cities all over the country allow them and seem to have little problem, Bullock said.
Unlike dogs, Reba doesn’t bark, and unlike cats doesn’t howl. She doesn’t oink either, Bullock said.
“She’ll make noise if you tickle her, squeeze her just right,” Bullock said. “But they (pot-bellies) don’t grunt and root like a farm pig does.”
Ward 1 Councilman James William, in whose district Bullock resides, said he’ll listen to her plea with an open mind but isn’t sure what position he’ll take.
“I’m anxious to hear her, whatever she has to say,” Williams said.
“The neighbors complain about the smell … that kind of thing,” he said of banned animals. “That’s the biggest thing.”
But Bullock contends concerns about odors are misplaced with pot-bellies, which aren’t like regular pigs. Nor do they present more odor problems than dogs, she said.
For instance, Reba is a vegetarian and her droppings are pellet-like, with very little odor and easy to collect and dispose, Bullock said.
“She gets a fruit and veggie salad in the afternoon,” Bullock said. “Her favorite food is grapes.”
People “think a pig is a pig is a pig – they all stink,” Bullock said. “Well, they don’t. My landlord finds no problem with Reba, she loves her.”
Reba spends some time in the house but seems to prefer her fenced yard, where she has a “cozy little house-like wine cellar ….”
“Actually, in Ripley, she came in every night,” Bullock said. “But here, she likes her little house out there (in the yard).”
Still, Reba’s no Pekingese, despite the Far Eastern heritage. She weighs in at about 140 to 150 pounds, though at adult age shouldn’t be getting any bigger.
She’s very smart and can be coaxed, but at 150 pounds can’t be manhandled, Bullock noted.
“She learned faster than my dog did to shake hands,” Bullock said. “She listens real well. They have the highest level of intelligence of any domesticated animal.
“But what I learned is you never force a pig to do anything,” she said. “They’re just a different kind of animal. You have to have a lot of patience with them.”
If the council isn’t swayed, Bullock said she’ll probably move outside the city limits to assure Reba can return. The county has no zoning or animal control restrictions.
“But I’d be upset. I really don’t want to move. I love Tupelo,” Bullock said. “I just hope the council is going to realize they (pot-bellies) are not an experiment, they’re not a new-wave pet. They’re all over the country.”