Canajoharie pursues criminal, civil charges over man’s ’emotional support’ pig

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A Canajoharie man who won’t give up his pet pig now faces a jury trial and up to six months in jail if convicted.

Wyverne Flatt claims Ellie is an emotional support animal. He was back in court Tuesday evening, trying to keep Ellie in his home. However, officials consider Ellie a farm animal, and those are not allowed in the village.

Wyverne Flatt tells NewsChannel 13 he hoped it would never get to this point, inside court facing criminal and civil charges for keeping his pet potbelly pig, Ellie, in his home. But it appears the law is muddy when it comes to the difference between a farm animal and an emotional support animal.

“I haven’t committed any crime. I don’t even know why I’m here,” Flatt said outside the court Tuesday, flanked by about a dozen supporters with signs.

Newschannel 13 first showed you Flatt and Ellie at their home last month. He says Ellie’s presence helped him come off of anxiety medication. He insists he’s not seeking attention with this case, because now, the battle to keep her is pushing him closer to needing to seek medical treatment again.

“You don’t eat this pig. This pig is here for companionship only,” he explained.

Tuesday night, Flatt learned he’s facing a jury trial over his companion. On top of that, he faces a civil case where he could have to pay $20 for every day he’s had Ellie at his home— or about $18,000.

“All she does is comfort me, she’s my personal pig, she supports me when I come home from work, a tough day,” he said.

The heart of the disagreement is why the pig became a problem and whether she’s a farm animal by default. The mayor told NewsChannel 13 this became an issue because of complaints over Ellie’s smell.

“The mayor came out and bald-faced lied. He said there was an odor problem,” Flatt said.

Flatt claims this all started because a code enforcer noticed her at his home while there on other business. His court-appointed lawyer told him charges stem from a 1965 law on harboring farm animals, on the books before emotional support animals were accepted.

“I have doctor’s support, I’ve got everything I need to do this, and we’re still going,” he said, showing the card he has with Ellie’s registration as an emotional support pig.

Outside court, NewsChannel 13 tried to ask an attorney for Canajoharie why they’re pursuing the case. She twice refused questions, saying the village requested she make no comment to media.

Flatt says this feels like more than just a tiff over a pig and suggests something else is going on here.

“We don’t need liars in government. We don’t need people who are going to do this kind of thing to people and carelessly spend taxpayer money over something so frivolous,” he said.

Flatt’s jury trial is set for March 2022.