Judge Orders Dad To Remove Son's Pig Or Face Jail Time
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 23, 2006
DAKOTA CITY, IOWA--A battle is brewing in the small town of Dakota City -- over a pig.
A Vietnamese potbellied pig named "Sid".
A few years ago, Frank and Kim Dahlsten got Sid as a companion pet for their 13-year-old son Zachary, who has disabilities including autism, intellectual disabilities, and attention deficit disorder.
But zoning codes in the town, population 911, do not allow residents to keep livestock.
So two years ago, the Dahlstens sent Sid away to stay at a local farm, a move that Zachary had a difficult time understanding.
"It took four or five months for him to stop going to the window where he used to play hide-and-seek with Sid," Kim Dahlsten told the Messenger News. "Zachary just changed after Sid left."
In January, they learned that Sid was ill with pneumonia, and brought him home to recover.
"He was sick and he was down from 85 pounds to 64 pounds," Frank Dahlsten said.
Now that Sid has gotten better, the city wants him to leave.
Last month, a Humboldt County judge charged Mr. Dahlsten with contempt of court for bringing Sid back into town. On Friday, the judge said that, if the family does not remove Sid voluntarily, Mr. Dahlsten would have to spend 14 days in jail -- and the county sheriff would remove Sid, anyway.
But the Dahlstens say returning Sid to the farm would not be good for the social animal's physical or mental health, and would prove devastating for Zachary.
"It hurt me before to hurt my son, and I don't want to do it again," said Mrs. Dahlsten.
The couple, which has gotten support in the past from groups such as Iowa Protection and Advocacy Services, Inc., said they plan to appeal the judge's ruling.
A similar battle has been going on in Miami Township, Ohio, over a couple's efforts to keep goats for their son, who has autism, despite zoning regulations that do not allow goats. The Valentine family has argued that the goats should stay as an accommodation under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
In Georgia, the Legislature recently passed an amendment to the state's wild animal law to allow trained monkeys to be used as service animals.
"Fight over 'Sid' continues" (Messenger News)