Family: Boy regressing without pig

August 21, 2009 5:56:37 AM PDT
The family of an autistic North Carolina boy says he is regressing without his favorite pet pig. The animal had to go after a Fayetteville city inspector told 8-year-old Anthony Pia and his family that keeping the pot bellied porker violated local animal ordinances.

According to Anthony's mom, the pig named Loopey was a pet and emotional therapy for her son.

City council members are taking a second look at the issue, and could reconsider the ordinance at a meeting in September.

But Pia's family says the pig needs to be returned now because occasional visits to Loopey at a farm aren't enough.

"Emotionally, it's devastated him. He kinda feels like everybody is out to get him, everybody is trying to hurt him because the one thing he loves has been taken away," explained stepfather Bobby Tibbetts.

The family claims that the animal is therapeutic and should be exempt from the ordinance. It presented a letter from a psychologist backing that claim on Monday.

"He had problems before we brought Loopey into his life. He made dramatic improvements while she was here. Now, he has backslid tremendously. I don't want to see it get worse, but I'm afraid that's what's going to happen if she continues not to be here," said Tibbetts.

If Fayetteville doesn't allow the pig to return to the family, it could have a federal fight on its hands. The family says the way the current city ordinance is written, it violates federal law that approves service animals for Americans with Disability Act patients.

The family has filed a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

ABC 11 will continue to follow developments in this story.


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