Butte residents push city to keep pigs as pets


BUTTE, Mont. - Butte-Silver Bow County commissioners passed an ordinance last week that requires pig owners to live on at least one acre of land.

It was changed from a previous ordinance of at least five acres.

Ashley Bonifer, a pig owner in Butte, wants the acreage to be lower. For a year and a half, she has had a potbelly pig named Sophie at her home.

"They are pets. They're indoor and outdoor. Sophie -- she stays inside most of the time," says Bonifer, and that her pig is calm, quiet and sweet.

The problem is that Bonifer lives inside Butte city limits on less than an acre of land, which is a violation of city code.

District Eight Commissioner Brendan McDonough tells NBC Montana that the only way Butte residents can have pigs within city limits would be to have a new vote brought forward to council, or have a discussion with Animal Services.

He says that process could take months.

Although Commissioner McDonough says he has not heard any complaints from anyone about pet pigs, some Montana residents say pigs smell, and they dig up lawns.

"I think it would be a stinky mess to be in town. I personally have pigs on a farm and they stink if you go near them," said Montana resident Brendan Deegan.

Bonifer believes pig ordinances should be the same as a cat or dog and should be registered and nurtured like any other pet.

Bonifer says "They have the misconception that they're stinky and they're dirty, but they're not. They're incredibly smart. They're like a mix between a dog and a kitten.

"If officials force her to get rid of Sophie, Bonifer says she would move out of town.

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