Zack Thompson and his wife Cassandra Caron-Thompson may very well be the most devoted pet owners on the planet.
Despite being hospitalized and in labor with the couple's first child, Cassandra managed to respond via email Tuesday afternoon to press inquiries about the ambitious petition drive she has launched to save their beloved pot-bellied pig.
And her husband granted a phone interview from her delivery room bedside.
The Alameda couple is desperately trying to challenge a 1935 City of Alameda law that prohibits “swine” from residing within 300 feet of any dwelling.
On Aug. 13 the couple received an unexpected visit from Alameda County Animal Control authorities in response to what they were told was an anonymous complaint. The couple say they were informed that keeping their miniature pig, Bosco, violated the city's decades old "swine" ordinance and he'd have to go.
The Thompsons say that they believe the code, written more than 75 years ago, likely referred to large farm hogs rather than small pet breeds like Bosco.
They are now on a crusade to seek amnesty for Bosco from the law's provisions, and the couple plans to appear at the Alameda City Council meeting in September to plead their pig's case.
"We don't want to ruffle the city's feathers," said Zack, "we just want them to make an exception for Bosco because of his miniature size."
He said so far authorities have been willing to hear them out, at least, but Bosco's fate remains up in the air. "The animal control officer was actually very nice to my wife," said Zack. "Hopefully we can get this resolved by a reworking of the code or obtaining some waiver for our pig."
One-year-old Bosco joined the Thompson family about 10 weeks after birth. He was flown to the Bay Area from his breeder's ranch, Tiny Texas Pigs.
Cassandra has a friend with a little pig named Hamlet, which is what gave the couple the idea to consider a pet piglet. Zack stopped by the Texas pig farm while on a business trip to meet Bosco's parents, Boomhower and Tinkerbell.
Bosco arrived at San Francisco International Airport after a 4-hour flight and was welcomed into the couple's West End home. Initially, he was still drinking out of a baby bottle, but he did arrive fully potty trained.
Known for his affectionate ways
Zack said the couple's three dachshunds, Luci, Cali and Lunar, took to the pig quickly and soon the foursome began their regular ritual of cuddling together on the couch.
"When I come home from work and Bosco greets me, it is so cute," said Zack. "The little grunty snorts he makes when he is contented just warm my heart."
It is Bosco's affectionate ways that won over Zack, who wasn't so sure at first he was ready to be a piggy papa. Soon Bosco had charmed the whole neighborhood.
The market comes to this little piggy
Because of their home's proximity to the Alameda Farmers Market, many passers-by encountered Bosco in his fenced yard and grew to adore him.
He got so much attention, the Thompsons had to post a sign informing his visitors he was a vegetarian and to please not feed him. "We had one guy throw a burrito over the fence," said Zack. "I had to stop him and explain that that wasn't healthy for Bosco."
"Carrots, yes," Zack said, "burritos, no."
Firefighters from the nearby Pacific Avenue fire station are particular fans of Bosco. So much so, Zack said, they have joked about adopting him as their mascot.
Piggy resumé posted on his website
As part of their campaign to gain legal residence for Bosco, the Thompsons have established a page on their Save Bosco website which lays out the porker’s good-neighbor credentials.
Listed among his positive attributes — Bosco is fully grown and only weighs 27 pounds. He has been vaccinated and given a clear bill of health by vets and the states of California and Texas. His breed of pigs does not carry rabies, and he is fully housebroken.
Bosco is known to spend warm days outside, but spends every evening inside and during colder months he is often indoors. Zack says he is baffled why anyone would complain about him.
“He is highly intelligent and loving," Zack said.
Neighbors rally in support of Bosco
Returning an earlier call for comment between his wife's contractions, Zack said that whatever else is written about their situation, he wants the people of Alameda to know how grateful the couple is for the over 300 petition signatures they have received since Aug. 14.
“We are so very touched by the amount of support our community has offered Bosco. He is a loving part of our growing family,” Zack said.
A family which will in a few hours also include their new baby daughter. Her name? Well, quite by coincidence, Charlotte.
You can read heartfelt words of support from people who signed the petition to save Bosco here.
STORY UPDATE: Bosco is saved! Story .