LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CN) - An Arkansas family claims they've been singled out under a new city ordinance passed solely to force them to give up their Vietnamese pot-bellied pig.
In their federal lawsuit, Jyll and Jimmie Battles say they've owned their pig, named W.P. Sooie, for a number of years, and that they and Sooie have formed a strong emotional connection.
They say that when they purchased their property in Little Rock and brought the pig to it, the possession of such animals was legal under city ordinances.
Despite this, they say, the city filed charges against Jyll Battles for unlawfully possessing her pet.
After she was acquitted of all charges, the city passed an ordinance banning Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs "if such animals are not more than 300 feet from any neighboring residential or business structure."
The plaintiffs say their property complies with the ordinance, and that in any event, W.P. Sooie lives inside their house with them.
The Battles say they know they've been singled out for persecution because city officials have told them "multiple times" that W.P. Sooie is the only pot-bellied big they know of residing within the city.
They also note that the city's ordinance contains neither a grandfather clause "nor allows for any existing pot-bellied pigs at the time the ordinance was passed to remain in a state of non-conformity."
The city has given the plaintiffs 30 days to remove W.P. Sooie from their home. They are seeking injunctive relief to void that order.
In addition, the Battles are asking the court to declare the Little Rock ordinance unconstitutional, and to grant them injunctive relief to prevent W.P. Sooie's removal from their home.
"In the absence of a temporary injunction preventing the City of Little Rock from enforcing Ordinance number 20,957, the City could, and would likely, enforce the Ordinance depriving the Plaintiffs of their property and render the protective relief sought in this Complaint moot or unattainable," the complaint says.
The Battles are represented by Clinton Lancaster of Benton, Ark.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.