KNOXVILLE — A 911 call concerning a loose pig sparked a discussion regarding whether or not the animal should be legally considered a pet.

The subject matter arose following an incident on June 28, in which the Marion County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a pig running loose on a public street.

According to CSO Officer Meredith Clark, code 6-4D-1 states no livestock is allowed within city limits. By searching Iowa Code 717, she learned all breeds of pigs fall under the definition of livestock.

During the Knoxville City Council meeting, residents spoke on how the city should revise the policy and allow them to continue keeping their pet pigs.

Knoxville resident Mary Oldam provided packets to the council members which contained letters from her neighbors, stating how they don’t consider her pig a nuisance. The packet also contained a letter from her veterinarian saying the pig is up-to-date with required vaccinations.

Oldam presented a petition which garnered over 200 signatures, asking the city to allow pot bellied pigs on Knoxville property as pets.

“I'm coming to step forward for others who are at risk of losing their pets, and I don't want to see that happen, even though they get treated like babies, like dogs and cats,” Oldam said.

Knoxville resident Joe Voshell, who is the owner of potbelly pig, said he received a letter from the city stating he needed to remove the animal from the property within 30 days. In his letter, Voshell described his pet as “a trained potbelly pig that is housebroken and kennel trained.”

He urged the council to discuss this issue during their meeting. Voshell said potbelly pigs are typically not used for meat, therefore should not be considered livestock.

The council members decided to revisit the subject matter and brainstorm ideas in a future meeting.

"I sympathize with the situation, it's a pet, and it's something you're close to, but we have to look at it from the other perspective, too,” Mayor Brian Hatch said.

The meeting also presented Lifesaving Awards towards first-person responders, which included Battalion Chief Trenton Bacus, Firefighter Miranda Ayers, and Raceway Safety Crew Member Shantel DesPlanque.

On July 18, a spectator at a SXR practice night was having a medical emergency. When the crew arrived, they found the patient was unresponsive and not breathing. The crew performed CPR and used an AED to shock the patient's heart.

“If it wasn’t for the crews at the raceway that night this patients’ outcome would have been drastically different,” Fire Chief Cal Wyman said. “The sound decision making ability, and dedication to providing top level care to this community made a difference for this patient.”

Near the end of the meeting, the council approved the resignation of council member Justin Plum, which will be effective Sept. 7, 2021. Plum will be moving out of Knoxville due to changes in his work location.

“I have enjoyed my time on the council and look forward to seeing the growth Knoxville will be experiencing in the near future,” Plum said in his resignation letter. “Thank you to the citizens of Knoxville for trusting me to serve them as a council member over the last few years.”

The next Knoxville City Council meeting will be on Aug. 16, beginning at 6:15 p.m.

Sarah Stortz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarah__stortz.

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