Florida Family Vows to Fight for Their 300-lb Pig
Strawberri, in her Pembroke Pines home. (ZT Pet News Photo by Rob Falk.)
PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. -- She might be a ham, but Rob and Harmonee Falk would rather move than give up their 300-lb Yorkshire pig, Strawberri, who, according to her owners, is just as sweet as her name implies.
The couple and their 11-year-old daughter were recently told by their Florida city, Pembroke Pines, that they or the 9-month-old pig will have to go within 30 days, despite previously administered permission to keep Strawberri, the family says.
“If that really is what it comes down to, we’ll move,” Rob Falk, 34, told Zootoo Pet News. “We don’t want to, but we are not going to give up Strawberri. We fully intend to fight for her.”
The Falks moved to Pembroke Pines around a year ago, in part because the community, around half an hour southeast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is advertised as a farming community, they say. The family, as well as their three rescued dogs, horses, chickens and goats quickly settled onto their three-acre property. Their neighbors also all had a menagerie of animals, including llamas and donkeys, so the Falks appeared to fit right in.
Strawberri joined the family in the springtime, when she was two weeks old, weighing in at a humble 12 pounds.
“There was a girl on Craigslist who advertised, saying that she rescued this pig from a farm but that she couldn’t keep her in her apartment anymore,” Harmonee Falk, 35, explained. “My daughter always wanted a pig so we went out and rescued Strawberri for her, because we had just moved to this new community where you had every animal under the sun.”
The family’s three dogs, a Rottweiler-mix, a Pit Bull-mix and a Shiba Inu-mix instantly took to the piglet, says Harmonee Falk, and took her in as one of their own. Their Pit-mix, Doobie, appeared especially fond of Strawberri, and apparently showed her the way, sleeping with her, eating with her, and even guiding her in using the bathroom outside.
“We thought the dogs might attack her, but they really just accepted her as part of the pack, just a bigger version,” she said.
Strawberri, in turn, grew to act like one of the dogs.
“She is very intelligent,” Rob Falk, owner of a trucking company, said. “She is very well trained, too. She comes, she goes, she knows when it is feeding time, when she wants to be pet she knows how to come up and rub up against you. She is very tame.”
Strawberri spent her first few weeks living in the family house, but in May, she grew to be “a little too big for that,” Harmonee Falk said, so she moved out to her own stall, or “bedroom,” in the barn with the horses.
Now, Strawberri keeps busy going for walks around the family’s backyard, playing “a little fetch,” Harmonee said, and spending lots of time relaxing in her personal inflatable pool.
The Falks’ daughter, Kai, continues to care for Strawberri as she always did – singing to her, sleeping next to her, playing with her, bathing her and feeding the pig her favorite treats, most commonly watermelon, cantaloupe, and honey dew.
“You just can’t separate the two of them,” Harmonee Falk said. “That is my daughter’s baby – she takes care of her.”
Yet that bond is now being threatened.
In July, the family heard word that a neighbor had reported them for having a Yorkshire pig, which can grow to be 600 lbs. Pembroke Pines technically only allows its residents to have up to one Potbelly Pig.
The Falks then attended a town meeting and defended their rights to keep Strawberri. Her tusks were removed when she was a baby, they said, so she is not like a wild boar and is completely tame and nonviolent. They bathe her regularly, they said, so the pig does not – and will never – smell. Their land is secured with fences, and Strawberri is not able to roam the neighborhood free on her own.
In September, the family’s pleas appeared to have worked – the town got back to them and said that they were willing to give the family special permission to keep Strawberri. An end to the unpleasant situation was in sight, but then just last week, the family was informed of a changed city ordinance. The pig, their community now states, will have to go within the month – or the family can find somewhere else to reside.
Representatives of the Pembroke Pines municipality government could not be reached for comment as of press time.
The Falks intend to attend a community meeting on Thursday and make their plea, once again. Their neighbors will also be there to back their case, they say, as they, too, have come to love the young pig.
Yet the family is also gearing up to accept the fact that if their case is turned down, the Falks, Strawberri, and the rest of their furry and feathered menagerie, will have to find a new place to call home.
There isn’t any question to the matter.
“It’s about how much I care for her,” Harmonee Falk said. “We have had her since she was two-weeks-old. It’s like saying you’ve had a dog for years, but because it is a certain breed you are told to get rid of her. You aren’t going to.
“We are going to do everything we can here, but if that is how the community is going to be, I’ll just move. It might take an hour for my husband to get back and forth to work, or more, but we are going to have Strawberri with us.”
4 years ago
I would hope some form of a grandfather clause would take hold on the situation.
Pigs can really be cleaner than some animals, and it is not hard to remove the pooh. Hope for the best, having raised them before and I can appreciate those that loved arnold, because they are smart creatures. Kipper video can attest to this, green acres lives forever.
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