Tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Seal Beach City Council will vote on whether to expand the city’s legal definition of livestock to include pigs of all sizes and kinds.
The decision could determine the fate of a pig named Bubba who lives on Dolphin Avenue.
The owners have already been cited for violating the existing livestock ordinance. Amending the code might make enforcement easier.
District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton has said no one family is being targeted.
Yet Bubba is the only known pig living within the city limits.
Deaton said the dispute has been going for about three years. Four years, according to Bubba’s owner, Madonna Grimsley.
Opponents of the city’s efforts to get rid of Bubba held a demonstration on his behalf on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 9, near the Seal Beach Pier. About 100 people, a few of them children, attended.
Karen Hadley, appearing as her alter ego Ruby Red-Eye, sang, “Don’t Send Bubba to Hog Heaven.”
“I can’t tell you the joy that this little guy has brought into our lives,” Grimsley said.
Bubba made an appearance and seemed perfectly calm as strangers crowded around him. His hair is coarse to the touch.
Deaton also attended the event and met with both Bubba and Grimsley.
The city code already prohibits hogs.
But Bubba owner Madonna Grimsley and her supporters argue that a hog is a male pig weighing more than 120 pounds that is raised to be bred or slaughtered for eating.
Grimsley said Bubba has been castrated and she has no intention of eating her pet.
“He’s not a breeder and he’s not a feeder,” she said.
Deaton did not believe it. “I know Bubba isn’t castrated,” Deaton said.
Deaton said the weight definition of a hog depends on the source. Deaton also said that not all of the elements of the definition of a hog need to be present for an animal to qualify as a hog.
Most reports put Bubba’s weight at more 200 pounds.
Deaton said the family had been cited for violating the code and had not paid the citation.
Grimsley said she had not paid the citation because she had been advised that doing so would be an admission of guilt. Grimsley said she did not believe she violated the spirit of the law.
Deaton said the pet’s owners had received a notice to vacate, the pig was not present when Seal Beach Animal Care Services came out, but then the animal returned.
A recent Sun guest column by Nat Ferguson and a letter to the editor by Jarred Robison argued that Bubba is being kept in inhumane conditions and that those who care about Bubba should support his removal from his Old Town home.
Ferguson and Robison both said Bubba screams.
But Gary Snow, a neighbor and supporter of Bubba, said that the pig squeals. “Dogs bark and pigs squeal,” he said.
Grimsley said animal control is obligated to come out each time they receive a complaint. She said she has only been cited for violating the code against livestock. She said Animal Care Services has never cited her for cruelty.
Grimsley said that Ferguson and Robison are friends who have kept their stories similar and egged each other on.
Deaton said all complaints about Bubba come from one person.
However, Deaton said there have been three separate complaints about Bubba.
Grimsley said her pig does not smell because he not kept in a crowded coral with other pigs or forced to sleep in his own waste.
Deaton said she has received calls from neighbors who say they have to close their windows because of the smell.
Grimsley said she was surprised by what she called the City Council’s “sneaky vote” to introduce the ordinance that expands the definition of forbidden pigs to all sizes, kinds and both genders.
California law allows city governments to introduce ordinances on the Consent Calendars of their agendas.
“I realized they’re being used as tools in somebody’s private vendetta,” she said.
At Saturday’s pro-Bubba rally, Deaton said she was concerned with the welfare of the pig’s family and the pig’s neighbors.
“We only enforce code by complaints,” Deaton said.
“Any way we try to play with the ordinance now, it’s a no-win,” Deaton said.
She also said she would make her decision about the ordinance Tuesday night.