Pet pig named Arnold Ziffel at center of dueling Warren County lawsuits

A Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Arnold Ziffel is the focus of dueling lawsuits between a Springboro-area couple and their homeowners’ association.

The Country Brook Homeowners’ Association filed a civil suit in Warren County Court of Common Pleas earlier this month against Richard (Rick) Lee Price, Jr. for keeping a pig at his home on White Beech Court in Clearcreek Twp. On Wednesday, Price and his wife Katherine Bebe Price, a Vietnamese expatriate, countered with a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming the pig is a pet, one that is traditional in Vietnam and an important part of that country’s culture and heritage.

The couple allege in the federal suit that they are being discriminated against because housing rules were amended after the defendants learned of Katherine Price’s nation of origin.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

“This is a textbook case of discrimination that is unlawful under The Fair Housing Act,” reads the U.S. District Court complaint filed by the Prices in the Southern District of Ohio.

The couple purchased the female pig in November 2018 and named her Arnold Ziffel after a pig featured on the television show “Green Acres.” Arnold has a bed indoors just like the Price’s Siberian husky, Jax, and also spends time outdoors in their large fenced yard, Rick Price said.

“She doesn’t cause any problems and doesn’t make noise,” he said. “She snores when she’s sleeping, but that’s more funny than anything.”

The federal lawsuit also names as defendants Lisa S. Ziemnik, Craig Salmon-Gilmore, Charles R. Norman, the Scott G. Oxley Co. and Planning Alternatives, LLC. The Prices allege the defendants are parties responsible for various aspects of administering policies and interpreting terms of sale for housing or for operating facilities and managing housing at the Country Brook subdivision.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The HOA’s attorney, Scott Oxley, declined on Friday to discuss the lawsuits without permission from the Country Brook HOA board to speak with a reporter.

In the lawsuit Oxley filed in the Warren County court, the Country Brook Homeowners’ Association claims its covenants, conditions and restrictions prohibit the keeping of livestock animals or poultry of any type, and notes that Rick Price is refusing to remove a “three hundred (300) pound hog” from the property. The Common Pleas Court suit further claims that the violation has caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm, damages and expenses to the HOA and to its members.

“Arnold was not raised as livestock. She is a pet,” Katherine Price said.

Rick Price said Arnold weighs at most 150 pounds and he can’t understand how a pig that sleeps most of the time can harm the neighborhood.

“One neighbor’s dog barks all the time and I don’t I make an issue about it,” Rick Price said. “It barks and most of the time they keep it outside at night. As far as being a nuisance or annoyance, I’d say that dog’s much more annoying than a pig that’s just sleeping.”

Complaints about Arnold to the HOA stem from a spat the Prices had with a neighbor who dug up but didn’t replace some of their landscaping, Rick Price said.

When Arnold was younger — and smaller — Katherine Price said she carried the pig in her purse on trips to the nail salon and elsewhere.

Katherine Price once had to part with a pet pig when her family left Vietnam when she was girl. She said she would be no less heartbroken today to lose Arnold.

“I definitely do not want that,” she said. “It would be like losing your baby, and every pet owner out there would feel like that.”

Only dogs, cats and other domestic household pets — with the exception of pit pulls — are allowed by the HOA, and then up to just three of those per lot, according to the HOA covenants, conditions and restrictions filed in Warren County.

In the federal suit, the Prices are asking the court to judge Arnold Ziffel specifically, and all Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs generally, as pets. The Prices also seek compensatory damages of at least $80,000 and punitive damages of $168,312 from the defendants as well as court costs and attorney’s fees.

The HOA has asked the Warren County court to grant the it temporary and preliminary relief and eventually permanently prohibit the Prices from keeping Arnold at the property, as well as require the Prices to pay the HOA’s attorney’s fees and court costs.

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