The city of Elmhurst had given us permission to keep our pet pig provided that no one complained. I couldn't even fathom what anyone might complain about. Pepper might be the ugliest looking pet anyone had ever seen, but she was quiet, clean, and smart and a much better pet neighbor than a yapping dog or a roaming cat with territorial issues.
Our landlord was on our side, the city councilman for our ward was on our side, the city manager was on our side, and the friendly neighbors next door--an elderly widow and her morbidly obese, unmarried son who worked the night shift at a radio station--had been big supporters of us bringing our pet pig home from where we'd been boarding her in Florida for two years over fear of the controversy of keeping pot-bellied pigs as pets.
But when I actually brought Pepper home, the sweet neighbors next door morphed into a pair of bizarre sociopaths bent on getting us run out of town.
They called the police on us. Since we had permission from the city to have Pepper, no citation was issued. They made constant calls to the city councilman in our ward and the city manager with claims that our house was filthy, WE were filthy, and our back yard was piled mile high with pig poop. They also called our landlord. He hung up on them.
They went door to door on our street with a petition to kick the pig out of town. They told everybody that we didn't clean up the pig poop in our yard. That our yard stank. They threw trash into our yard. And they had the gaul to complain that our pig made their yappy min-pin dog bark.
They told everyone that a pig on the block would lower property values. In a city council committee meeting they walked in late and tossed a picture of our wildflower garden on the table, saying that this was what our entire yard looked like. The city council people told me later that they'd just rolled their eyes over that.
I'd been warned by pot-bellied pig enthusiasts in Florida that people could be real asses over miniature pet pigs. They weren't kidding.
On the plus side, many sane, rational people rallied to our side. Our other next door neighbor told the city council that our yard looked like a beautiful park, well kept and nicely groomed. It did. Another neighbor who lived behind us said the sociopath duo had a history of firing BB guns and breaking out people's windows and that they'd also violated pet ordinances when they bred Boston Terriers. The Chicago-Tribune wrote an article about us.
We publicly invited anyone to visit our house at any time to see for themselves how clean everything was. Several people took us up on this and stopped by to meet Pepper. One couple decided to acquire a pet pig before the new law went into effect. Another sweet lady would bring Pepper carrots to eat.
Keeping a hog in a small pen on a farm is nothing like keeping a pet miniature pig that lives in the house like a dog and even uses an indoor litter box. But the crazy people next door insisted that the two were one and the same.
The situation escalated to the point where the city council decided to write a law banning pot-bellied pigs as pets, but grandfathering in any existing pet pigs and placing restrictions on them such as requiring rabies vaccinations (pigs don't get rabies) and allowing them only two hours of outdoor access per day.
The crazy people next door continued their campaign to overturn the grandfathering in of existing pigs even though Pepper had now been living in Elmhurst for a YEAR by that point and had been nothing but an asset to the neighborhood.
I would later read a book titled THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR that illuminated how some sociopaths seem like totally normal people but a single incident can set them off and they'll focus their energies on targeting a single individual. Or in this case, family with a pig.
People wondered why we didn't move. There was no place to move to. We couldn't afford to buy a house in the Chicago area. Finding another landlord who allowed pets would be extremely difficult and many of the surrounding towns and villages banned pet pigs. So we were stuck. And Pepper had already lived away from us for TWO years and it had affected both her and me negatively.
However, being the target of a sociopath's sickness was taking its toll on me, too.
To be continued . . .