Growing up with 200-pound pet pigs was nothing out of the ordinary for Joyanna Schra. It was a family tradition starting with her grandmother.
Schra grew up in Florida, where owning potbelly pigs was a normal indoor family pet to have, and she also worked with a 500-pound sow as a 4-H project.
Now living in McPherson, Schra is unable to continue the tradition because of city ordinance that does not allow pigs to be raised within the city limits.
However, Schra is now looking for ways to change the ordinance.
"When my husband surprised me, it brought back all those feelings as a little kid getting to play with them. They're so intelligent, they don't shed, bark or bite. I thought, 'Wow, I would really love to have one for my son growing up.' But we live here in town and we can't do that, so that's really where it all started, I've loved pigs my whole life," Schra said.
Schra and her husband started researching what they would need to do to lift this ordinance, and also started a Facebook page and Instagram account — McPherson County Kansas - Pigs are Pets, Too. They have also circulated a petition that has accumulated around 350 signatures so far.
"We're thinking about putting flyers up around town and we've been talking to other people. But the response has really been so positive people are like, 'Why in the world do you want hogs in town?' I explained, 'It's not hogs we want, we don't want slaughter hogs, but pigs under 300 pounds,'" Schra said.
Because of positive responses from the community, Schra is hopeful for the future.
"We're really excited about the possibility of reaching that goal and we're excited to see where it takes us. This is our first time doing anything like this. It's a little overwhelming and we've gotten pointers and tips of how to go about it and done a lot of online research," she explained.
Nick Gregory, city administrator of McPherson, said the group will next need to meet with the city commission to discuss the matter.
"They would need to make a formal request to discuss the issue with the body and in the meeting in the public comment section — which is at the beginning of the meeting and is a very limited time — or they could schedule a study session time with the city commission," Gregory explained.
There are several factors the city commission would have to consider in order to lift this ordinance.
"There would be limiting factors that would have to be considered. They would look and see what other committees have done and the negative affects of what could happen, like someone having a hog farm in the middle of the city. We have to consider a lot of factors," Gregory explained.
For more information, visit their Facebook page, McPherson County Kansas- Pigs are Pets, Too, or visit their petition page at https://change.org.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.