Vic West resident Mike Downey and his two potbelly pigs

Vic resident fighting to keep pet pigs

It paints a strange picture in one’s mind. A 39-year-old man walking his two pigs on a leash down a street in Vic West.

It paints a strange picture in one’s mind. A 39-year-old man walking his two pigs on a leash down a street in Vic West.

But that is what Mike Downey did.

Several times a week, Downey would take his two potbelly pigs, Athena and Vishnu (named after the Greek goddess of war and Hindu god), out for a walk in the same way a dog-owner would.

The two indoor pigs (Athena weighs in at 110 pounds, while Vishnu weighs close to 130 pounds) have lived with Downey in his Vic West home for just over three years. But recently they were relocated to a barn near Brentwood Bay on the west side of the Saanich Peninsula. Downey had to get rid of his pets after the City of Victoria told him they go against city bylaws, threatening him with a $250 fine for every day the animals remain in the home.

However, Downey is fighting to have the laws updated so he can keep his pigs.

Downey originally got the pigs when they were four months old from a breeder in Florida and now treats them as if they were his own children.

“Pigs are the fourth smartest animal on the planet. I started to do some research and you could teach pigs to play video games,” he laughed. “I got pigs because they’re smart. I can teach them tricks in under 20 minutes and they remember it for their whole life.”

He has taught them a number of tricks, including teaching Vishnu to say “mama,” and sings to them as well. Above all, they love cuddling.

“When they were four pounds, they used to run and jump on my bed and you’ve never seen pigs jump before unless they want to cuddle,” Downey said.

But Downey isn’t giving up on his loveable pets and will be forced to move out of the city if bylaws can’t be changed.

He has hired a lawyer to help get city bylaws updated and is prepared to take the city to court, if necessary. He has also started an online petition to let him keep his pigs that has garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

“I’m not going to sit down and take it. I want to fight for my right to keep potbelly pigs as pets,” he said, adding he knows of three homes and five pigs in a six block radius from his home that have had their potbelly pigs taken away because of the bylaw.

“This is a bylaw issue.”

Coun. Jeremy Loveday, council liaison for the Victoria West Community Association, said changing the bylaw is not something the city is currently looking at.

“It’s clear that they are his pets and he loves them the way a person would love a dog or a cat. I have great empathy,” Loveday said.

“But at this point I haven’t heard of anyone at the city pushing to look at this section of the animal control bylaw. What I have to think about is, if we change this bylaw, how would it affect the city if everyone was allowed to have two or three pet pigs? That’s what we would have to consider. How would that start to affect neighbourhoods?”

For more information visit his Facebook page Save Mikes Pet Pigs.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drive up voting is popular with Victoria-Swan Lake voters at the Craigflower elementary polling station. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Drive up voting popular at Craigflower polling station in Victoria-Swan Lake

Nearly 13,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Victoria-Swan Lake riding

Polls close at 8 p.m. in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding. (Katherine Engqvist/News Staff)
VIDEO: Esquimalt-Metchosin candidates reflect on campaign as polls close

An estimated 12,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding

Oak Bay High voting station was slow and steady for the provincial election day, Oct. 24, 2020. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Early voting reduces election day turnout in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

An estimated 15,918 mail-in ballots requested in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

This was the line-up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre at around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The short-up line speaks to the high number of votes, which have already been cast against the backdrop of COVID-19 by mail or in advanced voting. Voters, however, unanimously praised the safety measures in place, as well the convenience of the polling stations. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
‘Slow’ turnout at polls across Saanich North and the Islands

Peter Mason, district electoral officer, expects about 10,000 ballots to be cast

Barb Wright and Cynthia Vance at the District Electoral Office for the Langford-Juan de Fuca (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Polls now closed in Langford-Juan de Fuca

An estimated 12,120 mail-in ballots were requested in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read