EGG HARBOR TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- An Atlantic County couple is hoping to change township ordinances that don't allow them to keep pigs and chickens as pets on their property.
Two of the pigs, sisters Anna and Elsa, were munching on some cucumber at their home in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey on Wednesday. Their two older pen mates, Archie and Panchie, were nearby.
The four pot-bellied pigs are cared for by Dave and Brianna Ferrier, along with their five-year-old daughter.
"First it was Archie and Panchie, we rescued them. And we - Dave and I - hand-built everything," said Brianna.
They say they rescued the four pigs from neglectful conditions over the last year.
The couple also has eight chickens on their property.
"We moved here to escape city life," she said. "My great-grandmom owned a farm and I just always wanted to kind of find that path."
The Ferriers say these animals are their pets, and they don't intend to breed them or sell anything.
So they were surprised when they got a notice from the township in December saying that by having chickens and pigs they were violating two township ordinances.
According to Dave, the township said they were running a piggery - or a farm for pigs. The township also said it requires five acres of land to own chickens.
The Ferrier's property is almost four acres.
The letters say the family must remove the animals or potentially face fines, community service or jail time.
Their deadline is April 21.
They could pursue a variance with the township, but they say that will cost them thousands of dollars.
Instead, they're hoping to change the rules.
"Let's look at it," said Dave. "Let's change an ordinance that was written decades ago that couldn't have accounted for these beautiful animals and let's update it. Because believe me, we are not the only family facing this."
Action News reached out to the township administration and zoning.
The zoning officer said no comment would be made.
Township administration did not respond.
The Ferriers plan to speak at the township committee meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.