CANAJOHARIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After a two-year-long legal battle, a pot-bellied pig and his owner are headed to trial in front of a jury. The owner claims his pig is an emotional support animal, but the Village of Canajoharie says otherwise.
Wyverne Flatt is facing both a civil and criminal case against him. He now faces a jury trial in March 2022 and up to six months in prison if convicted.
“I’m not willing to get rid of her, and I can’t imagine a little village trying to make a fella get rid of his emotional support animal,” said Flatt.
Flatt’s main focus is keeping his pot-bellied pig Ellie. He has been fighting this battle with the Village of Canajoharie for more than two years and through 14 court cases.
Flatt was back in court on Tuesday night.
“I’m being charged for harboring an illegal farm animal, the law that my attorney just let me know that it was put into place by 1965,” he said.
Hogs are prohibited in the village on less than five acres of land. The village is proposing a new law that would ban certain animals, now including pot-bellied pigs, in residents’ homes.
NEWS10 ABC’s Spencer Tracy tried to talk to an attorney for Canajoharie outside the courtroom, but she declined to comment.
“This may be a pig but under the law, it’s a companion animal,” said Dr. Valerie Lang Waldin
Dr. Waldin is a lawyer and a retired animal law professor at Hudson Valley Community College. She says Ellie has the right to stay with her owner.
“This is not a work animal; this is not an animal used for commercial purposes. It is a companion animal under the law,” she said.
“If a jury trial convicts me of this, I can’t see how they would possibly convict me of this,” said Flatt.
If he’s convicted, he faces a possible sentence of six months in jail as well as hefty fines where he could have to pay $25 for every day he’s had Ellie at his home.
His tentative court date is March 22-24.