Sierra Made is a small community east of Pasadena. If you have ever been there you have probably heard talk of Neil. Neil is a Vietnamese potbelly pig that has resided in the small community for the last 17 years. Yesterday he was threatened with eviction.
Neil has been living in a front yard behind a white picket fence greeting passersby for 17 years. He was adopted by Diane Emerson in 1996 after a chance meeting at the Pet’s Delight pet store in Monrovia. She fell in love at first sight and brought him home to Sierra Madre the following day. Her daughter Dr. Katherine Emerson inherited Neil after Diane died six years ago.
Yesterday Officer Story of the Sierra Madre Police Department came by to cite Dr. Emerson. According to Story, Neil is a violation of municipal code 08.030, entitled simply “Hogs”. The code prohibits hogs from residing within the city limits. However Neil is actually a pig, not listed in the code. Dr. Emerson said she was warned if Neil is not removed from the city limits they will proceed with legal action to have him destroyed.
Dr. Emerson believes the citation is in response to a complaint she made about a neighbor who brought home a rooster a few months back. The rooster is in violation of two different city ordinances, including a noise violation, but has yet to be removed.
A social media campaign began Tuesday to save Neil on both Facebook and Twitter. The family encourages everyone to contact 626-355-1414 or stop by 242 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. and show their support for Neil.
Locals are outraged by the citation and can’t believe Neil’s home is being threatened.
“Why in the world are they citing him now after 17 years? This outrageous.”
“SAVE NeilthePig! Back away from the bacon!”
“The City cannot do this to you. We had recently heard a rumor that Neil had passed away and my kids were devastated! We got in the car to go over and make sure he was still okay. Neil is an icon in this town and our children should not be hurt by ridiculous bureaucracy.”
“Let's make Neil Pig the Grand Marshall of the next Sierra Madre 4th of July Parade!!!!”
“This reminds me a lot of charlotte's web. Like we are all Charlotte and neil is wilbur. I was very sad to hear that they want to evict neil. I am 15 years old currently and have fond memories of going to see neil with my grandmother at a very young age.”
According to Dr. Emerson, locals volunteer their time to help take care of Neil. One friend would come by in the morning to sing to Neil; his song of choice is “Rock Your Body” by Justin Timberlake. Another has spent three to four hours a week cleaning up Neil’s yard and staying to chat with him.
Neil’s regular diet is a bowl of Cheerios and the occasional apple but most of his food comes from those passing by. People were so generous with their donations, Neil had to be put on a strict diet by his doctor. Visitors now bring him food such as organic lettuce and other vegetables from their garden.
A rally is scheduled for Thursday October 23 in Memorial Park on Sierra Madre Blvd. at 11:30 am. It will be a peaceful demonstration by his friends and family to show the city how much he is loved. Neil has asked for support on Facebook.
“Attention friends...we will be gathering tomorrow in Memorial Park in Sierra Madre at 11:30 to show support for "Save Neil." Please bring your kids, dogs, neighbors, etc. Make signs and write letters of support so my sister can use them at my administrative hearing. We cannot block the street or cause a problem, but we do have the right assemble. Unfortunately, due to my age and health I will not be able to be there in person, but I will be there in spirit.”
Dr. Emerson is distraught by the citation but is ready for a fight. “There seems to be no reason to try to evict Neil now when he has lived peacefully within the city limits for the last 17 years. Please follow Neil on Twitter, become his friend on Facebook and help me communicate with the city of Sierra Madre how his removal would be a loss to the community as well as my family.”
UPDATE: Dr. Emerson has received word from Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone that they will NOT persue any action against Neil. He is free to stay in his home with the Chief’s support. After spending the day checking the municipal code, he declared Neil exempt because he is a potbellied pig and not a hog.
Dr. Emerson would like to thank everyone for their support of Neil including the Sierra Madre Police Department for resolving this issue so quickly. She credits social media with getting the word out and helping to save her beloved family pet.