Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Plea for Stay of Pigsecution

by Pat Brown

Most of the time, we can't prevent homicide. By the time we get the news, the victim is already dead. We didn't see the assault; we couldn't call 911 to come save an innocent person's life.

But sometimes we know ahead of time that someone's life is going to be taken. The government executes capital criminals; family members order doctors to pull the plug on comatose relatives.

And when it comes to animals, pets, we know many are murdered daily behind closed doors, often euthanized because their owners abused them, neglected them or abandoned them when they got tired of caring for them.

I understand we have too many unwanted, homeless animals. But what about government officials, who collect our taxes, ordering the murders of beloved family pets? One of my good friends was forced to put her family dog to sleep because the government gave the family two choices: subject their elderly pet to expensive tumor surgery, or kill it. The family raised and loved this dog from puppyhood to old age. But I guess a few people working for local government knew better than the family whether the dog's quality of life was no longer good enough.

No wonder some people are frightened of the government. Isn't Prince George's County the same county where the police are getting grief for a no-knock raid on our mayor's house just over a year ago during which they shot his two beloved black Labs to death? The police were tracking drugs being delivered to homes of people in the area; some of the intended recipients were involved in the transactions but others were not. In the case of Mayor Cheye Calvo's house, they had information about a drug delivery to his address, so they followed a box of drugs being delivered by FedEx, busted in and shot his dogs in what police claim was necessary for the safety of the officers. Although the probable cause for the raid has not been made public, a lot of people believe the police overreacted and didn't do enough factfinding before they took action.

But there's no drug raid in my case; the county has no pressing reason to issue a death warrant against my pet, an ancient potbelly pig named Gwendolyn. Prince George's County employees could at least have given me the courtesy of talking to me to find out the facts before ordering Gwendolyn's execution. I spoke with the chief over at Prince George's animal control, explaining Gwendolyn was 20 and wouldn't live much longer; couldn't they grandfather her in? The chief told me he would look into it and call back. He never did. He just filed the paperwork and ignored the circumstances.

So now they have come for me and my pet. I have until December 29th to murder Gwendolyn. It's murder, because there is nowhere to move her and no way she would survive the move. Elderly pet pigs don't handle being taken away from their families very well. They fall into depression and stop eating. So the only option is euthanasia.

What did Gwendolyn do to deserve this? She was a little piggy when we took her into my home in 1990. There were no laws back then saying she couldn't stay; there are no laws now except for the way the county interprets the phrase "household pet." According to county code:

"Domesticated animal means an animal of a species that has been bred, raised, and is accustomed to live in or about the habitation of man, and is dependent on man for food or shelter. Pet shall mean a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility. Pets include, but are not limited to, dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, and other animals, which, by habit or training, live in association with man."
Okay, so far, so good. But then the folks who write zoning code honed in on potbelly pigs, aiming to keep them out of the county. They added one crucial word -- "customarily" -- to the zoning code. It now reads: "Keeping or raising livestock or any animal that is not customarily a household pet..." I guess if too many people, especially influential people, don't like a certain animal, that's that. You can't have it as a pet. So wouldn't that mean my iguana should be forced out as well? Can't quite see how a pet rat fares in this equation, either. Aren't they dirty, disease-carrying vermin when they're outside the cage?

So now poor Gwendolyn is being categorized as a farm animal -- livestock -- even though she doesn't live on a farm, isn't a working animal, wasn't raised to be a farm animal (she wasn't grown to be eaten), and doesn't behave as anything but the pet she is.

Gwendolyn lived inside our house for 15 years, even after she hit 300 pounds of happy pigginess. Yes, potbellies do grow that large if you don't stunt them by underfeeding (as was recommended to owners, to keep their pigs artificially small). Most folks who got a pig for a pet when it was a fad thought their babies would only grow to 50 or 60 pounds. If the owners underfed them, they did stay small -- and they died early deaths from malnutrition and organ failure in less than 10 years. Feed them well, and you have some healthy porkers! George Clooney's beloved pig, Max, reached nearly 300 pounds and lived 18 years before he went to hog heaven.

TV Judge Jeanine Pirro's pig, Wilbur, is still going strong at 19 years. But most owners dumped their larger-than-expected swine on potbelly-pig rescue farms created just for this purpose. My "little" piggy stayed home.

Gwendolyn loved being in the house. Where does a big pig sleep? Anywhere she wants! She might climb onto the couch, or rip off some cushions and make a bed on the floor. In time, she pulled a pile of blankets and rugs into a downstairs closet and made her own "pig pad."

Gwendolyn is very smart. We had to lock the refrigerator because she figured out how to pry it open, open the drawers with her snout, and steal all the food. One day she wanted the Girl Scout cookies on top of a freestanding shelf unit, so she pushed a heavy tool chest away from the shelf and rocked it until the cookies fell off.

When I started traveling a lot, Gwendolyn became an outdoor pig with her own pighouse in the backyard. When she lived in the house, she would yell to go out to the bathroom and to spend time in the yard. When she wanted in, she would let us know just as clearly. When she moved outside, she quickly adjusted to her private house. She wandered the yard and slept in her hay and blankets. She still let us know when she wanted to be fed or ran out of water. Sometimes she'd come around to the front yard so she could visit us as we sat on the porch in nice weather. When the apples fell from the tree at the side of the house, she made her forays over there.

Last summer, Gwendolyn decided to forgo her house in the backyard and sleep out under the bushes in the front yard. We tried to coax her to the backyard, but nothing worked. She stood her ground. When autumn came, the air and ground were turning cold, and the rains started, I worried about my aged pig who didn't seem to know she should be in her house. I would find her standing in the rain, not even taking shelter on the porch. Was she senile? Had she forgotten how to find her way to her pighouse in the backyard? Again, I tried every trick I could think of to coax her into the backyard but failed.

One evening I was leaving to go to a movie when it started to rain heavily. As I raced to my car, I saw Gwendolyn standing in the middle of the yard, rain pounding down on her. I felt absolutely horrible, but I couldn't figure out what to do. When I got home, it was still raining and in the dark, I couldn't find Gwendolyn. In the morning, I went out to search for her again, hoping I wouldn't find her dead of pneumonia under a bush. I searched under all the bushes in the front yard but didn't find her. I couldn't figure out what happened to her. Then I went to the backyard, peeked into the pighouse, and there she was, snuggled nicely in the corner under a pile of hay and blankets. Gwendolyn was never senile; she just didn't feel like going to the backyard until she felt damned well like going!

This is my Gwendolyn; 20 years old and wanting nothing more than to live in her own home. She can't have much more time on this earth; she is already one of the longest living potbelly pigs in U.S. pet history. I've asked the county to leave her alone and let her die a peaceful death on her own. They have refused. So the fight is on!

Please come over to Save Criminal Profiler Pat Brown's Pet Pig, Gwendolyn Facebook page, join, and post your outrage. Gwendolyn needs your support or it won't be a very Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year for my piggy or my family.


Linda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Keli said...

I hate that you are having this battle. Your pet pig is part of your family. Just not right to sentence her to death. I could not get the facebook page to load, but will keep trying.

Pat Brown said...

Thanks, Keli, for the kind words. I just fixed the link and its working now (I had one to many http's in that address!)

Leah said...

I am so sorry Pat. I have known several people who have pot belly pigs as pets and they were wonderful. I wish you success with your fight to keep Gwendolyn alive. What a coward the Chief is for not even calling you back.

Linda said...

Yet again Pat is removing posts that speak the truth.

I've been reading her Facebook group information. She KNEW there were laws against having farm animals in a residential area back in the 1990s. She just never got caught.

Pat is the one that has sealed this pig's fate. Not only did she illegally house the pig for almost 20 years, but she could just as easily find a farm that would accept her pig. She has chosen not to and instead will say that the Town is killing her pig.


And she is blaming her former roommate for turning her in. This would be the roommate she stalked for years claiming that he is a murderer.

Pat, you have no soul. Do what's right for the pig and bring her to a farm.

Pat Brown said...

Thanks, Leah. I have no idea why he didn't call back. But it certainly would have a been a nice thing to do. Gwendolyn has been an interesting pet to have, certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but I always enjoyed having her about. I will miss her when we become a pigless house some day.

Women in Crime Ink said...

Normally I don't respond to Linda's personal attacks when I post, but I want to correct her libelous comments.

1) There were no laws against potbelly pigs in my county in 1990.
2) The renter she is speaking of did not call animal control. Also, I have never called him a murderer, only a suspect in a crime which, considering the police brought him in for interrogation, took his DNA, and gave him a polygraph (which he failed), I would say the police thought him a suspect as well. You can read the whole story in my book on May 11 when The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths (Hyperion Voice)hits the stands.
3) The town had no problem with my pig being at my home and, had in so many words, grandfathered her in.
4) Gwendolyn is perfectly happy outside with her yard and warm house. To move her now is a death sentence.

All future comments from Linda will be removed as they have been in the past for libel, going off topic and denigrating the author of the post, none of which is permitted at Women in Crime Ink. While we welcome diverse opinions and discussion, personal attacks are not acceptable.

Preraphazon said...

Can you post the name and maybe number of the county official who is doing this? I think phone calls might be effective. I would suggest going over his head right away and keep going over heads until you find someone with a heart and common sense. It's not fair for them to change the law and demand that then longstanding pets be banished. As many animals as need homes, you'd think the County would just be glad yours has one.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Brown has a wonderful soul and she is a person who is highly respected and admired not only by me, but her Facebook fans, TV audience and throughout the world. Blaming Ms. Brown is totally outrageous and totally uncalled for. Sending Gwendolyn to a pig farm would be an automatic death sentence. Pigs her age will go into a deep depression and not eat if they are removed from their surroundings that they love so much and especially from the people that they love.
This is not a place to be posting inappropriate, slanderous remarks and defamation of Ms. Brown's character. Ms. Brown is desperating trying to save her beloved Gwendolyn and time is running out. And, we are all trying to help her accomplish her
wish for Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn is family !!!

Linda K. Moore
Huntsville, Texas

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pat Brown said...

Preraphazon, I have filed an appeal and I am waiting to see what they say. Also, I just got the names of the beaurocrat responsible for the decision to off Gwendolyn and I am sending him over the appeal letter and supporting documents (which oddly he does not actually see if I don't send them to him specifically). Then, if he drops the case, I will be happy. If he does not respond, then I might be asking for help from all Gwendolyn's wonderful supporters to help put more pressure on the office.

And, Linda....ah, the good Linda (kind of like the good witch in OZ! ::laughs::) Thank you for your very kind words. I have to laugh at those who claim I am failing to care for Gwendolyn properly as she is probably one of the oldest potbellies living in the country...I must be doing something right!

I really appreciate all the support you and others have given me and Gwendolyn. Any pet owner knows what horror they would feel if forced to give up or kill their pet. Last time I gave up a pet was when I was 19 years old and moving from California back home to my parents;s house. I had adopted a stray cat and though I found her a home, I still feel guilty about giving her away. From that day on, any animal that came through my door, came to stay. They are part of my family, in sickness and unto death, and I have never regretted living with them through the good times and the bad. Gwendolyn has reached an age where she is a bit surly, but she is still my Gwendolyn.

laurajames said...

Pat, don't let them shoot your pig! I did some quick research and Virginia state law is on your side. Under state regulations, a "domestic animal" specifically includes "pot-bellied pig". See http://legis.state.va.us/codecomm/Register/vol17/iss06/v17i06.pdf


good luck

Pat Brown said...

Well, Laura, unfortunately, I live in Prince George's County, Maryland, and not in Virginia. Our zoning code does not specifically outlaw potbelly pigs, but the "customarily" word allows the county to force one to remove thy pig from thy property. I think it is a poorly written and very weak law that can be fought and I will do so if they don't grandfather Gwendolyn in and my appeal goes to hearing.

Laura James said...

Darn it!
Well, you might find this interesting --
Walker v Prince George's County

Cheryl said...

Pat you MUST write a book about your life with Gwendolyn. While I sympathize with the problem you are currently having, the short tidbits you shared with us about Gwendolyn made me smile. Maybe a childrens book?

Pat Brown said...

Laura, wow, is that convoluted! No wonder the system is in so much trouble!

Cheryl, that's an idea! Is the title, The Profiler and the Pig? ::laughs::My biggest problem would be remembering anything as I am not a diary type. I would have to ask all my friends to contribute their memories of Gwendolyn. One thing I do remember, is that when she was a wee piglet, she slept in the bed with my husband and I. We had to build her a ramp to get up into and down from the bed.

Cheryl said...

I have a feeling that once you start writing (and jogging the memories of friends and family) it will all come back to you. Looking at old pictures will help as well. 20 years with that cutie....there has got to be some hillarious tales to tell.

Julia Davis said...

Rooting for you and Gwendolyn!!! BTW, "The Profiler And The Pig" sounds great! I would read it :)

Farmhand said...

This is outrageous, particularly when talking about a pig of Gwendolyn's age. Kicking her out of her home would be cruel to both the pig and her family. I hope you win. Our governing bodies need to chill and allow us to make choices that make us happy. Gwendolyn's presence does not interfere with anyone else's life or property.

Pat Brown said...

Gwendolyn has gotten her Hollywood break! She will be on Channel 4 (NBC) news in Washington DC. They are doing a nice story about her and the county's demand for her death. The story is on the 5 and 6 PM EST news..at the moment scheduled for 5:30 and 6 with another segment possible.

Sondra said...

I just posted on your Facebook page. I encourage you to post names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of officials so all of Gwendolyn's supporters can start contacting them. A few years ago, again in Maryland, officials were going to do something equally horrible to someone's pet monkey. Thousands of people called or sent email messages. The monkey was "grandfathered" in.

Pat Brown said...

Good idea, Sondra, I will be working on that.

Meanwhile, Gwendolyn was quite a ham when Channel 4 news came out to do a story on the situation.