Pet pig allowed to stay with family near Wellington

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Brittany Shammas

Published October 19, 2014

Wilbur the pig is home free, after a nearly yearlong battle between his owners and their homeowner's association..

The 65-pound porker can stay in Eric and Rori Halpern's house under a settlement the couple reached with the Cypress Woods Association.

The unincorporated Palm Beach County community had tried to kick the pig out because of an association rule banning livestock. But the Halperns argued that Wilbur, a 17-month-old certified emotional support animal, helps their two young sons and other people in Palm Beach County.

They said the agreement came as a huge relief after 10 emotional and stress-filled months.

"Our family — and especially the boys — was ecstatic that Wilbur can continue to live in our home without worry," Rori Halpern said.

Ryan Aboud, the attorney representing the community southeast of Wellington, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He said previously the couple hadn't done enough to prove the pig was medically necessary for the couple's two sons.

Medical records provided by the couple showing both boys have been diagnosed with ADHD, and one with Asperger's syndrome, were not enough, Aboud said at the time.

Terms of the settlement, reached last week, are confidential.

"We are thrilled the parties were able to work together to reach an amicable resolution and, most of all, that Wilbur may continue to reside with the Halperns," Cory Mauro, the family's attorney, said in a statement.

The Halperns brought Wilbur home when he was 5 weeks old. He goes on walks with them, sleeps in their laundry room and cuddles with them on their couch. He's also housebroken: He oinks when he needs to be let out.

Wilbur became certified as the Humane Society of Broward County's first therapy pig at the minimum age of 1. He visits assisted living facilities and schools across South Florida with Rori Halpern, who trained to be his handler.

When they were told the pig had to go, the family mounted a campaign to convince their homeowner's association to let him stay.

They filed a fair housing complaint with the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity, created an online petition that gained nearly 3,000 signatures and handed out pink wristbands that read "Let Wilbur Stay."

They also launched a website, Facebook page and Twitter account for the pig.

With the fight now over, the Halperns said they're focusing on getting Wilbur out to help more people.

"We're elated that this chapter of our life is over," Eric Halpern said. "On to bigger and better things."