Spring Potbellied Pig Dispute Hits the Courts

“Veterinary experts” are now “standing by to testify” in the lawsuit filed yesterday against a Spring HOA on behalf of Houston’s best-known potbellied pig, declares the lawyer hired by the pig’s owners, Missy and Alex Sardo. What’ll those experts say? That Wilbur Sardo, the 60-lb. pet with close to 5,000 Facebook friends — and now a live webcam showdoesn’t count as livestock, and therefore isn’t prohibited from living with his owners by the deed restrictions of the Thicket at Cypresswood neighborhood.


The Sardos filed suit in response to threats of a lawsuit mailed to them by an attorney for the Thicket at Cypresswood Community Improvement Association earlier this month. The letter stated that the family would be liable for $200-a-day fines if they kept their pet at their home, and that they were already on the hook for the $125 the attorney was charging the association for writing the letter. A few days earlier, the association had sent out a somewhat bizarre survey to residents in the subdivision asking “whether there is a desire or need for residents to keep livestock on their property.” The survey consisted of a single question, with only 2 allowable answers: Respondents could indicate only that they thought residents should be able to keep potbellied pigs or any other non-traditional household animals — or that all such household animals should be banned.

The Sardos’ lawyer, Mitchell Katine, says the case is the first-ever in Texas dealing with pot-bellied pigs as pets. Meanwhile, the Sardos are selling Wilbur the Pig T-shirts to help pay their legal fees.

Photo, survey, and video: Wilbur Sardo

24 Comment

  • Dumb. Just plain dumb. This isn’t about HOAs, it’s about the ability of a person to enter into (or not enter into) a contractual agreement. Don’t like the definitions in the agreement? Don’t sign it.

  • So if the family decides to leave it outside, like many dog owners do, and starts wallowing in the mud it’s still not livestock? Come on.

    Also, as pigs get older, they get pretty ornery and mean. Then again, don’t we all?

  • It’s not really about not liking the contract, it’s about disagreeing over the meanings of the terms in the contract. The Sardo’s do not believe that Wilbur is covered under the description of livestock in the contract, the HOA do.

  • BACON!!!

  • I don’t believe that a domesticated pot-bellied pig is “livestock”. And all kinds of “pets” can be “non-traditional”. How about people who like rats, or snakes, or bearded lizards as pets?

  • SL – my two pot-bellies are not ornery & mean (ages 8 and 21). They are extraordinarily clean – even dainty – we give them a shower about once a month. Housebroken in 2 days. Responsible owners will neuter their pet (just like cats & dogs).

    Pigs only wallow in mud to cool off – they have no sweat glands, thus cannot cool themselves by evaporation as we do. A pool and/or inside air conditioning is their preferred alternative. They don’t get fleas or rabies. And they WON’T eat everything. Mine will not touch the dog’s food.

    They above all want to be with you. Ours follow us around the house & set themselves down nearby, it seems just to keep us company. Scratching a pig is a very pleasant occupation. And as Churchill said “Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, but pigs treat us as equals.”

    We are rooting for Wilbur!

  • Another argument against suburban living. Anyone ever seen the wack jobs that run these HOA’s? Folks with better things to do have actual jobs and and don’t spend their time peeping in their neighbors’ back yards to search out things to get offended by.

  • If you want to live in a certain area, and they all have HOAs with ridiculous terms, and the only way you can get into the area is to pick one of them.. that’s not a real choice, is it Mek?

  • @SL: the difference between a pet pig and its livestock brethren is that one wallows in the mud and the other does not?

  • i think it’s a valid suit, but don’t see much hope for them. the question is going to come down to who gets to define what livestock means, but the real question should be what is the exact definition of livestock.

    if you consider an animal by itself livestock (which encompasses both dogs and horses depending on your place of origin), then yes the pig is livestock. this is where a judge would probably just default to commonly held beliefs that any typical farm animal is by default livestock despite the obvious pitfalls with such a decision. however, if you consider the real definition of livestock to be domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities then they’re obviously free to choose a pet pig if they want.

    the whole thing sounds dumb though. if the pig proves to be a nuisance in the future then tell them to fire up the grill, but i don’t see what kind of trouble the piglet could be causing right now.

  • I’m for saving’s Wilbur’s bacon, I don’t want to see him get porked!

  • Texas housing laws suck. they have all the association problems as well. everyone has to be the same and live how a minority of people tell them. I bet if half the people knew that all their precious associations are actually run by a large corporation, their toon would change.

  • My reaction to this story: sweep your danged floors! Were you raised in a barn? What a pigsty!* Full disclosure: my floors need to be swept, I was raised in a barn and my house is a pigsty.

  • As long as they don’t take Wilbur on a walk to poop in neighbors’ yards, like so very many irresponsible dog owners do, what the heck! He’s only 60 pounds and doesn’t crow at 4 AM like roosters, and Cypresswood is so far out, it’s farm country anyhow.

  • Aren’t dogs and cats considered to be ‘livestock’ in China??

  • Look Wilbur, I’m backing you 100%. Pigs are cool pets. I feel sorry for the owners having to live in a such a hostile neighborhood. Discriminating against a well behaved PET because why? I don’t know. My mama said the worst you could call someone in a southern Baptist way was a fool.

  • I want to be there when SL calls some bunch of bikini mud wrestlers “Livestock” LOL!

    How does the Texas Department of Agriculture classify a pot-bellied pig? I know that in the Texas Hurricane Evacuation and Mass Care
    Plan, Attachment 6 (Texas Department of Public Safety site) they are classified as “companion animals” in the definitions section.

  • I think it was determined that all government bodies in Texas do NOT define potbelly pigs as livestock. I have two mastiffs – the big boy weighs close to 200 lbs – many people call him a horse but he is still pet :)

  • The HOA doesn’t just prohibit livestock though, it prohibits all animals other than common household pets. The pig is super cute, but all povisions of an HOA have to be upheld for ALL homeowners. If they are enforced haphazardly, then the association is guilty of discrimination. Thus, if an association does not enforce its provisions, then the provisions are considered null and void.
    Cute pig though.

  • Were the rules of the HOA even considered before the pig was bought? A true responsible homeowner should have sought out this information prior to buying the pig. Consider the neighbor next door who wants to sell her home…would you want to buy a #350,000 home with a pig that roots under your fence? Not to mention the smell..she says she cleans the yard and applies cedar chips- I am here to tell you that is not the fact. Try sitting outside in the evenings and swatting away flies coming from the pig manure over the fence. She paints a pretty picture on the news and to the media- but I am a first hand witness- she isn’t telling the truth!!

  • I wondered when the gloves would come off.

    Ya need to get some video with smellavision.

    All things considered though, I’m for the pig. I’ve seen dog piles that would match a cow’s and smell worse.

  • That’s weird. PBP poop doesn’t really smell much (not like a hog farm, where the hogs are fed to bursting). It’s kinda similar to rabbit or deer (remember these are prey animals). Wilbur may be overfed? Or not eating proper PBP food, which is like rabbit food pellets – alfalfa + protein mix. We rake the poo up & put on the compost pile or mix it directly into the garden soil. It does not burn the grass. Or attract flies, really. Maybe the neighbor is smelling something else? An 8-month-old PBP will produce about 20 little balls of poop a day on the proper diet. Sorry if this is TMI, but I feel I owe it to Wilbur to produce some facts from a long-time responsible pig owner.

    I can smell our neighbor’s dog’s poop next door – and the wandering cat’s – but the pigs’ is not nasty at all. I was kind of worried when we got our first one that it would be a problem, but it is not. And our neighbors will tell you that too.

  • I have 2 spayed pot belly pigs. You don’t have to have odor with them. There is spay that is put on food to prevent urine and feces oder. I have had Pigalena since she waS A BABY