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CASE TIMELINE
 

April 6th 2011
April 7th 2011
July 14th 2011
July 14th 2011
August 10th 2011
August 12th 2011
August 13th 2011
August 30th 2011
September 5th 2011
September 16th 2011
September 21st 2011
October 18th 2011


November 14th 2011

January 25th 2012
January 27th 2012
February 14th 2012


February 16th 2012
March 24th 2012

April 20th 2012



April 30th 2012
 




May 7th 2012

 

 


May 8th 2012

June 29th 2012

Initial letter received April 6th by Community Improvement Association (C.I.A)(1)
Reply to HOA Board of Directors from Sardo (family pictures included)
Letter received July 14th from C.I.A.
(2)
Page from current deed restriction pertaining to owning pets
Letter from C.I.A. Lawyer to Sardo
Survey sent out by C.I.A. 8/12 to Thicket Residents
(3)
Letter sent out to all Thicket Residents by Sardo
Lawsuit filed against Cypresswood C.I.A.
(4)
Letter sent to C.I.A. Asking for an amicable resolutions
Motion to settle case out of court denied by C.I.A.

Request to C.I.A. for Survery results and List of Filed Complaints
A response from the C.I.A. was received with the survey showing that the vast majority of The Thicket residents did not mind Wilbur being kept by the Sardo family.
One of our key experts, Dr. Rogers testified today on why he considers Potbellied Pigs pets and not livestock.
Another of our key experts, Dr. Tynes, deposition has been set for Feb. 7th.
Dr. Rogers deposition transcript.
Dr. Tynes deposition went also very well. She was very knowledgeable with her answers, clearing up any misconceptions regarding potbellied pigs and how emotionally attached they get to their owners (transcript will be posted shortly).
Our depositions are set for February 22nd.
Under instruction, we're delaying posting further depositions. We will post all documents once the case reaches its conclusion.
Summary judgment has been filed with the Judge at the Houston Court House and it's due to be reviewed on May 7th 2012. At that time, the Judge will look at all gathered evidences and testimonies and either make a ruling, or proceed with a Jury Trial.
Copy of the Summary judgment document which outlines Wilbur's case including responses to the Association's comments. Read about it here (it's a big file).
 

Houston Civil Court Judge rules in favor of
Wilbur to stay at home with his family!

Thank you for all of your support. A big thank you to Mr. Mitchell Katine (lwkn.com) for taking this case, Dr. Rogers and Dr. Tynes for their expert testimonials.

 

Final Judgment as awarded by the Houston Civil Court on May 7th. You can read all about it by clicking here.
The North American Potbellied Pig Association (NAPPA) recognizes Mitchell Katine for the tireless work in fighting for us to keep Wilbur at Home.

(1) The word "(pig)" in this document does not appear in our deed restrictions. It was added manually.
(2) The same day that we were told we could get a 51% majority, this letter was sent to us.
(3) The very biased survey (with incorrect USDA statement) sent out by the HOA Board of Directors.
(4) Filed after numerous attempts to contact the HOA Board, by mail, certified/signature, email, phone.


June 29th 2012


May 8th 2012

Judge: Wilbur the pot-bellied pig can stay with Spring family


Wilbur the pig wins his battle versus homeowners association in Spring


A very well written Houston Cronicle newspaper article is here

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/05/08/dnt-tx-pig-wins-hoa-court-battle.khou

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=8651495

http://www.chron.com/default/article/Family-s-pot-bellied-pig-can-stay-despite-3541112.php

http://www.39online.com/newsfix/kiah-newsfix-wilbur-latest-20120507,0,1698304.story

http://www.click2houston.com/news/Family-wins-legal-battle-to-keep-pet-pig/-/1735978/12755410/-/oi1kuf/-/index.html

http://www.khou.com/community/Judge-Wilbur-the-pot-bellied-pig-can-stay-with-Spring-family-150484825.html

Initial coverage by KHOU back in 2011 ...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tlgHuujwmig#!

May 7th 2012

Today, The Civil Court House ruled in favor of Wilbur to remain at home with our family. It is obvious that potbellied pigs have been bred for the sole purpose of pet ownership... The issue is bigger than this the Judge said as his closing statement. HOAs should not be permitted to micro manage families on what they are allowed to do in their home.

We want to thank you all for your continuous support and words of encouragement in the last 18 months. Wilbur is celebrating tonight, after a long battle, on a strawberry and vegetable dinner!

April 30th 2012

A copy of the motion for summary judgment has been posted (see above timeline). The hearing for our case is set for May 7th 2012 at the Houston Court House at 1:30pm. If you live in Houston and would like to be present to this very important event (all media has been invited to attend) you can join all of our supporters and meet us at 1:00pm at the court house address:

Harris County Civil Courthouse
201 Caroline, 11th Floor
Houston, Texas 77002

Public Hearing set for May 7th 2012, 1:30pm.

We will see you at 1:00pm on the 11th flloor. Thank you for being supportive of our case and prayers. Additional information about the courthouse and contact numbers are here.


April 20th 2012

Motion for summary judgment has been filed. Awaiting hearing on May 7th.

March 6th 2012

Last year, the Association sent out an informal survey to our neighbors asking for their opinion on us having a potbellied pig as a pet (Survey sent out by C.I.A. 8/12 to Thicket Residents). It was a confusing survey since it was quite biased and many of the resident did not vote due to that (and they did come and see us back then and express their disappointment with the survey wording and how they just trashed it).

Anyway, I am saying this because at our last deposition, the survey numbers which I published back in October were questioned by the Association. The Association stated that Ithe numbers we reported were fudged (is that a word?) or something along those lines. Their lawyer continued by stating that the Association had counted the vast majority of our neighbors responses as being against us having Wilbur as a pet.

So, as to make sure that I indeed did not indeed make a counting error, I had another person counting the votes once again (we were provided by a copy of the survey by the Association last year).

The result from this last counting came back again with the majority of our neighbors not worrying about us having Wilbur as our pet at all. This is far from what the Association would make you believe. I whish I had my survey files with me back there and then as to have them counting the results in front of me (on record) instead of using the cut-down version of what they presented at the deposition. Unfortunately, due to the confidentiality of the survey, I can not share these documents themselves here, but thankfully I will be able to amend my deposition with proof of my statement and let the Judge see for himself how the data was manipulated by the Association on our deposition day ...

January 25th 2012

Another of our key experts Dr. Tynes will testify on February 7th. Dr. Tynes is a Board Certified by the American College of veterinary Behaviorists animal expert and a well known Animal Behavior Specialist.

December 22nd 2011

We would like to thank you all for the Christmas wishes, and beautiful cards and presents that you've sent to Wilbur, Dorey and our family. We are blessed to have such a great support group not only online, but even in our neighborhood. Thank you also to all of those neighbors that walked all the way to our home and placed your presents for Wilbur on our front door (you know who you are).


December 2011 - Wilbur and Dorey waiting for Santa ...

November 14th 2011

We're meeting with one of our expert witnesses this week so that the C.I.A. (Community Improvement Association - aka HOA Board of Directors) lawyer can take his deposition. Wilbur's case is set to go to trial on the third quarter of next year unless a resolution is found before then. I will let you know the dates once they are confirmed (since they can be reset to be moved further forward) so that you can be present.

Yes, it is a long process - most lawsuits are (that is why in the end it gets so expensive - and this is an expense that the Thicket C.I.A. will have to reimburse, if the Judge agrees with us and our animal and medical experts that Wilbur is not livestock but a beloved pet).

You know, it is just beyond my comprehension of why the HOA Board is so stubborn and keep wasting our neighbors money on this case (only 20% of our neighborhood voted against Wilbur staying with us in the survey sent out by the HOA Board a few months back (I have all the survey responses)).
...Talk about an HOA working for the neighborhood's interest ... How can they be working for the neighborhood if they do not act or listen to the majority's interest? What right did they have to stop us from having a 51% vote (which would have ended this issue and saved everyone money months ago)?

Anyway, until either a resolution to Wilbur Staying is found or the trial date is due, Wilbur is living with us, cuter than ever and getting in trouble with his smart moves (like the rest of our kids do) - he's now sitting on command without the need to trick him -- very impressive!

 

October 22nd 2011

As promised, here is Wilbur's first (draft) comic. Enjoy, and thank you very much for helping us out with your donations.

Donate and help Wilbur by contributing to his legal fund. Click on the Donate button below.

(DONATIONS ENDED)
Thank you for all that you did to help us
Our one year battle would have been unbearable if it wasn't
for all of you and your support. We're forever thankful.

Thank you.

 

October 21st 2011

This is the remainder of a long overdue update. I apologize for not posting any news since last month, but we are in the "discovery" stage of the lawsuit against the Community Improvement Assoc. (stirred by the HOA Board of directors).

During discovery, each side accumulates evidence and experts to support their case. Obviously we can't publish what our material is until we know we will use it, since the HOA and other HOA informers, periodically survey our website to see what we're up to and then use our information against us by bending what why say etc... We just need to be little smarter - hence the (unfortunate) delay... Sad, but that is where it's at ...

Anyway, we were fortunate to find well qualified experts to support our case willing to testify - we will make their name public once we've cleared it with our Lawyer. If you would like to recommend more experts, please email us (wilbursardo@gmail.com). The more experts, the better, of course.

I am sure that by now you’ve read the latest media coverage article (http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/10/21/40813.htm which basically summarizes it all) ... That is as up to date as you can get.

Right now, and for the next few weeks, we will continue with discovery and depositions, which will then be followed by a court-hearing date. Once we know the date, we will let you know so that you can be present during the hearing if you wish.

On other news...

We finally received a copy of the (non binding) survey which the HOA board sent out a few months ago. We counted 56 negative votes and 81 positive votes (one of the votes were ignore because a neighbor scratched out the words 'all other animals' and only agreed to Wilbur) - or something along those lines -- go figure ... I guess the HOA wants either to have Lions and Wilbur or none at all ... Anyway, 112 Neighbors did not vote as they were either confused, did not care, or did not like the biased survey (I know that many that came to see us back then said they could not vote as it was a biased survey and there was not a clear positive voice -- it was either "let all animals in the neighborhood or none").

Most of our neighbors do not have a problem with us having Wilbur as our pet, so that was very encouraging. Like any neighborhood, there will always be a few that do not like animals or do not understand the joy a pet brings and find pleasure attacking other pet owners -- that's life ... I guess...

The overall poll shows that only 20% of the 250 neighbors do not agree with Wilbur being here (none of them have been in our home or came to visit and talk to us -- they just consider Wilbur livestock because he looks like a pig) which goes to show that the majority of people are educated enough to understand the difference between a potbellied pig which is a pet and a traditional farm pig which is considered livestock.

It also goes to show that most people can recognize when they are being manipulated by a biased survey. Their hand-written comments on many responses are refreshing to read to say the least...

In the end, every neighbor that came to visit us and saw Wilbur and our backyard could not understand what the fuss was all about and wished that the HOA would concentrate on more important issue instead of spending money on trying to separate a family from their pet. Yes, Wilbur IS a pet, which does not bother anyone. He is quieter than the many of the neighboring dogs, so quiet that most residents did not even know we had Wilbur, until a few months ago, when this story went public...

What's next?

We will allow the HOA to take the depositions of our experts, then once we request and obtain the documentation that we require, we will file it all with the Judge to see if he can make a decision or decides to go to a full trial. I will let you know as we progress in the next few weeks...

Thank you so much for all of you continuous support and relentless words of encouragement - I do not think you know what a great difference that makes.

This is a precedent setting case. What it means is that with our fight, we are fighting for the right to own a potbellied pig as a pet, which is the very reason why they were bred and imported in the first place. With your voices, we are hoping for the Judge to see how our HOA is manipulating the deed restriction by calling our pet "livestock". How hard can it be to see that Wilbur is a DOMESTICATED pet? He can sit, he comes when you call, he asks to go out, and he cuddles with you. He listens and all he wants is to be cared for - and - we love to care for him. He is a member of our family!

Keep us in your prayers and God Bless you for being so supportive...

Until next time...
 

September 16th 2011

Two weeks ago, we formally offered to the HOA Board to withdraw the lawsuit and save money to both sides (we offered to pay our lawyer/costs out of our own pocket and not seek any cost recovery and end the lawsuit altogether). All that we asked in return was that they allow us to keep our pet, Wilbur within the family as he has been for the past 10 months.

Today September 16th, the HOA Board filed a refusal to our proposal for settlement and opted to proceed with the law suit and go to court instead...

Their decision will now effect everyone in the Thicket neighborhood since there are going to be considerable costs associated with this lawsuit in the next few months (it can run in exces of $50K+) which will have to be somehow recovered... I am not quite sure that the current HOA insurance will cover it all (no one could get an answer when this question was asked at the last meeting).

I am truly sorry that we could not work this out in a neighborly manner, considering Wilbur, our potbellied pig is not livestock as the HOA Board stated, but a household pet (as classified by the United States Department of Agriculture). A pet which does not bark, or run wild in the neighborhood ... A pet that lives inside our home with us and does not bother anyone. A pet that many of our neighbors have grown to like and many thousands more watch him eat his daily meals on his feeding webcam...

As some of our neighbors rightly said.... Why can't we all just get along? ... Who is Wilbur bothering?

September 9th 2011

...Emails like this one makes us realize of how much Wilbur is loved and enjoyed by so many people around the country and overseas ...

"Dear Wilbur and family- My job is very stressful and I often leave work feeling defeated and fairly worthless. Often, I don't even have time to eat lunch. But whenever I feel bad, or am ready to give up, I watch Wilbur's videos on You Tube and I somehow manage to get through the rest of the day. I wish I could change the world and make it a more just place for everyone, animals included. And while I know I can't change the world, I'm really going to try to change my small corner of it. Good luck, Sardo Family"

September 7th 2011

In the last HOA meeting there were residents who asked for information about the Wilbur case. Information such as the lawsuit document which is a public document and also who is doing what and why this lawsuit was filed - they all received a relentless "You will have access to the information once the lawsuit is over" from the President - which, of course will be too late to have a say on how our annual dues are spent, or how the Board has/is acting ... The president said that due to the "gag order" imposed on the Board, they could not discuss any details. Period.

We have checked with our lawyer and he has confirmed that most of the questions can be addressed publicly to the residents of the Thicket. So, we decided to invite the thicket residents, to a private meeting at our own home next week. Since the Board can not be involved in the "pig issue", no Board of Directors have been invited and will not be allowed to attend. I also believe that having this informal but open meeting will give all the residents an open platform to voice how they feel about Wilbur, and perhaps see for themselves how Wilbur behaves in his daily environment.

We are extremely lucky to have found a really professional, knowledgeable lawyer that not only understands HOAs and its governing laws, but is very approachable. He has kindly offered to be present at our meeting to guide us and to answer any question that The Thicket residents may have.

A couple of hundred letters went out today to all residents -- hope to see a good turnout, at least enough to spread the word to others (as many work till late). We are very thankful to all residents that have already contacted us and offered their support and look forward to meet more residents next week, so they can understand what has been happening for the past two months.

September 6th 2011

Well, yesterday meeting was quite an interesting one. Before the meeting started, the current President of the board Larry Cronin came around and physically started grabbing Alex's camera saying that he was not allowed to record the meeting. Under Texas Law, and the Homeowners Association Code, any member can with or without the Board of directors consent record any public meeting. I do not have the correct "legal" wording, but our lawyer agreed that we did not do anything unlawful and Alex was within his rights to wanting to record the meeting. Nevertheless Mr. Larry Cronin was very physical in grabbing the Camera and attempting to pull it off Alex's hands. The full audio of this event was captured on tape before the camera was switched off. About 20 homeowners/witnesses were present at that time in the same room.

One of the questions raised by the homeowners was a request to review the lawsuit papers that we had to file against the Association. Again, the President of the HOA took the lead and quickly replied that he (the homeowner) will have a chance to review such document once the lawsuit is over - Obviously another attempt to hide public information by President, since the lawsuit is a public document. We would like to make such document available here for anyone interested in reviewing it.

Larry Cronin also stated that the annual dues will not be increased as a result of this lawsuit since the insurance company will cover all costs.

I want to conclude this update saying that The lawsuit is against the Association and not The Thicket residents (many of which already agreed with us that Wilbur should stay as he's not bothering anyone).
 

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