A Gainesville woman is suggesting that other residents familiarize themselves with the city’s restrictions on pets so they don’t end up losing their a furry friend like she did.
Rachel Nosacka was forced to re-home Buddy, her miniature pot-bellied pig, after the city of Gainesville said it was against code to own a pig as a pet.
When Nosacka saw Buddy at a Gainesville farm supply store, she knew he would be a perfect pet, especially with her allergies preventing her from owning a cat or dog.
“I had never seen a piglet before,” she said. “When I did, I immediately fell in love and realized that a piglet would be a really good pet.”
Noscacka, her husband and their daughter kept Buddy in an enclosure they built for him in the backyard of their home on Northwest 35th Street, off University Avenue.
Buddy, though, repeatedly escaped from the enclosure. After one escape, Noscacka said she was contacted by a city code enforcer saying she was not allowed to keep the pig as a pet because it violates city code.
Nosacka said she did research prior to purchasing Buddy and found that Alachua County code permits keeping a pig as a pet.
“I didn’t know there was a difference between the city and county codes,” she said.
Though the code offers no clear explanation on why pigs are banned as pets, there are a number of possible reasons, according to Chris Cooper, who heads the city of Gainesville’s code enforcement department.
They include odors from the animals and noises they make, he said.
“It’s not something you typically find in residential areas,” Cooper said. “There are agricultural zones where these animals are more common.”
But recently, the city did change its code to allow residents to keep more chickens on their property than previously allowed, he said.
“It’s certainly possible for the city to add a distinction between miniature animals and regular livestock,” Cooper said of the possibility further loosening restrictions.
Nosacka and her family were devastated at the thought of losing Buddy, and in an effort to keep him, they reached out to city commissioners.
Nosacka said city Commissioner David Arreola suggested they attend a commission meeting and work with the code office to keep their pet.
After they took his advice, Nosacka said they were hopeful they were going to be able to keep Buddy. However, their excitement was short-lived: The city eventually told them they indeed had to find a new home for Buddy or face potential fines.
“The city was nice in that they gave us a few weeks to find Buddy a new home with a good family,” Nosacka said. “But we wish it was long enough to change the code. He’s a wonderful pet.”
Despite having to give up Buddy, Nosacka said she will continue to work to get the city code changed so nobody has to experience what she did. If she succeeds, she said she may consider adopting another pet.
“I would consider getting a miniature goat,” she said. “They’re generally a lot friendlier, they let you hold them and pet them, and for some reason, I’m not allergic to them, either.”
For those considering similar pets, they should be cautious, said Johnathan Miot, director of the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.
Miot said that pot-bellied pigs, for example, have different needs and ones that are harder to meet than a regular dog and cat, such as dietary and veterinarian. Such resources are not as readily available as those for domesticated animals.
“If your dog or cat gets sick, there are plenty of places you can take them to get treated,” Miot said. “For a pig, your choices are a lot smaller.”