It’s Wilbur’s last stand.
Wilbur, the Staten Island pig who has to leave his home or be “disposed of” by the city, is running out of time and his champion, Sen. Tony Avella, has issued a direct challenge to Mayor Bill de Blasio: Fix this archaic law or I will when I become mayor.
Acknowledging the city is dealing with a few ramifications of President Donald Trump’s pen, most recently, an executive order to cut funding to sanctuary cities, Avella said de Blasio is doing “a poor job” of caring for the city and its individuals.
Calling the city’s argument against Wilbur, a registered service animal, “ridiculous,” the Queens Democrat said it’s time to take “a fresh look at the policy.”
Cristy Matteo of Staten Island, Wilbur’s owner, initially won the case to keep Wilbur, Avella said, but the city refiled and Wilbur faces eviction once again.
“It seems the city isn’t abiding by its own administrative judge who dismissed the violation,” he added.
The state senator is trying to push a stalled bill that would allow small, domesticated pigs under 200 pounds and less than 22-inches long to reside in homes in New York.
He said he is waiting for the city council to issue a “home rule message,” that would allow the local government to decide if having a pet pig is legal.
As of Thursday afternoon, the directive still stands; Matteo, whose sick father relies on Wilbur as a therapy animal, has until the end of the month to find a new home for the pig.
“I’ve been around a number of these pigs now,” the senator, who stumbled upon the animals as his “pet” cause while campaigning door-to-door in 2010, said.
“It’s just the same as having a dog or a cat for emotional support. People identify with their pets and there’s no reason to treat these small pigs any differently than a dog or cat.”
When we’re slovenly or eat too much, we’re called pigs. If our apartments are messy, they are compared to pig sties. And it has been said that pigs are happiest when rolling in… well, you get the idea.
But the argument remains that domesticated pigs aren’t the same as pigs on a farm. Matteo’s pig happily lives with her dog, is housetrained and is not aggressive, Avella said.
Whoever dropped the dime on Wilbur isn’t completely off base. It is illegal to have a pet pig, pet monkey or other exotic pets in New York City. Evenferrets are personas non-gratain the city that neversleeps.
“Unfortunately, that’s just a sign of the times we live in today,” Brooklyn veterinarian Dr. Salvatore Pernice said. “Everyone doesn’t mind their own business.”
Pernice doesn’t know Wilbur personally, but boards his own potbelly pig at a sanctuary in Pennsylvania.
“I can tell you from my own personal experience, the pig is not barking,” he said, adding that his 170-pound dog weighs more than his 95-pound pig.