- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New York City slapped a $500 fine on a Navy veteran who keeps a therapy pig to help stabilize her emotionally, saying an ordinance is an ordinance and the beast falls under “wild animal” restrictions.

Nadine Darsanlal wrapped her overseas deployment to find she had contracted bacterial meningitis and couldn’t work, HuffPost Live reported. She went on disability but then obtained a service pig to help with her emotional issues.

“With the damage [the meningitis] has done, I couldn’t continue working, but I’ve always loved helping people out, so I decided to train a therapy pig to help others out, to volunteer and go places to cheer others up,” Ms. Darsanlal said, HuffPost Live reported.

But the city didn’t see it that way and fined her $500 — despite the fact that the pig, named “Wilbur,” earned certified service animal status.

Now the Navy vet said she’s suffering financially from the fine.

“As a disabled veteran, I’m low income,” she said, HuffPost Live said. “I get disability. To pay a fine for a certified animal, I feel like it’s ridiculous. There are so many dogs out there that are more aggressive than Wilbur or pigs in general, and they’re legal. So I don’t see why pigs are illegal. They’re very sweet. They’re kind.”

New York state Sen. Tony Avella has introduced a bill so that pigs of Wilbur’s size might lawfully be kept as pets.

Ms. Darsanlal said she hoped the legislation would soon become law.

“As my service animal, I need him for my companionship,” she said, HuffPost Live reported. “My dog helps me out physically, but my pig helps me out emotionally. He helps me out with just daily living. I wake up for my boys and just to have him not staying with me all the time and being there for me, it’s like a piece of my heart is missing.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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