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Save the Pigs

TimesLedger Newspapers

Since his days as a city councilman, state Sen. Tony Avella has never been one to avoid the spotlight. Some might even say the man who would be the next borough president is a publicity hog.

In his most recent crusade, Avella is challenging a longstanding city law that prohibits New Yorkers from “harboring” pigs as pets.

Avella has taken up the cause of Whitestone residents Lou and Danielle Forgione, who said they have received two summonses from the city Health Department because of Petey, their Juliana pig.

Now, they say, the city is threatening to “dispose” of the 50-pound pig who has become a member of the family.

The Forgiones say that, contrary to popular perception, the pig is clean and even gets in bed with the kids. And, most important, the pig is harmless.

The Health Department is forced to defend a law intended to keep people from turning their backyards into barnyards.

Making a rather stretched moral equation, the senator said he was shocked at the amount of enforcement on the part of the city when he has had trouble getting authorities to crack down on construction and development violations.

It may be time for the Health Department to take a new look at the law as it regards pet pigs. After all, the city does allow residents to keep snakes and pit bulls.

In another animal rights move, Avella came to the defense of upstate squirrels targeted in a hunting festival earlier this month.

In January, Avella kicked off his campaign in the race to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall.

“I’m running to put Queens back on the map in terms of city services,” he said. “Queens has historically gotten the short end of the stick with city services and I’m looking to change that.”

Avella is a populist who got his start in politics as an aide to the late Mayor Ed Koch. He has shown that he doesn’t mind ruffling the feathers of the Democratic Party machine.

We don’t know yet who Avella will be running against, but we’re sure of one thing: The race will be interesting.

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