Marionville, Mo. These days, dogs and cats are common therapy animals. We've even heard of a few cases of therapy snakes. But, pigs? Indeed, there are at least two of them residing in Marionville.
Carolann Scott Leo says her 4-year old pig, named Francis Bacon, helped her get through a lot of trauma in life.
"He gets along with everybody. He is a part of the family. He is Francis Bacon and our baby," said Carolann Scott Leo, a Marionville resident.
Carolann demonstrates how Francis can perform "tricks" on command, such as sitting. He also likes to give his owner kisses- with an oinking snout only a mother could love.
"For many, many months, he slept in the bed with me as stand as strong as that is. It's no different than having a dog."
Francis even has a little buddy named "Jax," another therapy pig who lives up the street.
That pig's owner, Jennifer Renner, explained, "He has helped my son. My son has ADD and ADHD And he takes with not having to take as many meds."
Carolann says her Francis, which is registered as an emotional therapy service animal, is no pig pen dweller, and spend much of his time indoors. "The is no hog wallow. There is no mud pit. There is nothing like that. Pigs are naturally very clean animals."
But, the City of Marionville sees Francis with different eyes, and believes the animal belongs in a barnyard, and not in someone's backyard. Since the town doesn't recognize the legitimacy of service pigs, Francisis livestock by their definition, and livestock animals are not allowed in city limits.
Carolann says she has gone back and forth with the city for a year now, hoping to get the law changed to allow exceptions for service animals. She was recently given a municipal citation for keeping livestock in the city.
On Thursday evening, Francis, Jennifer, and several friends attended the Marionville City Council meeting in hopes of pleading their case again.
The town's animal control officer stated, like Marionville, most area towns do not allow therapy pigs. Furthermore, he explained domesticated pigs are still considered swine, and are subject to diseases and other public health concerns shared with their cousins on the farm.
Council members expressed reluctance to revisit the issue, and ultimately decided to drop the topic from further discussion.
"I did not ever think it would be a problem in a small rural town like this. I can see a heard of cattle out my back door."