When Janice Baylor appeared in Lancaster General District Court on Sept. 1, she was facing a list of charges for animals and livestock running at large. When she came back for her review hearing on Oct. 6, she had 10 new charges.
Baylor has over 100 pigs. Many of them roam, hanging out in the woods, walking the road, and sometimes blocking the road. They have also been destroying her neighbors’ property. People have reported seeing pigs about two miles from Baylor’s residence on Iberis Rd.
In September, Judge John S. Martin continued the case giving Baylor time to build a fence and contain her pigs. Meanwhile, the neighborhood’s problems continued.
Testimonies of an ongoing nuisance
Jamie Abbott, Lancaster’s chief of animal control testified that he brought new charges on Sept. 7, one day after Baylor’s September court appearance. He responded to a complaint and found roaming pigs, five of them in the road.
Four days later, he received another complaint. When he arrived, three pigs were crossing the road. “Here we go again,” he told Baylor and charged her for each animal.
On Wednesday, Baylor and the contractor who built the fence said it was completed the day before court.
However, Paul McDunn, who has three properties on Iberis Rd. said he saw several large pigs crossing the road that morning before court. Another was “following her across the road like a dog.” And some of the pigs had done “significant damage” to his flowerbeds the day before.
The commonwealth attorney entered two pictures as evidence—one showing pigs and the other some of the damage.
Rebecca Vernon stays at her daughter’s house when she visits the area and said the pigs have done “significant damage.” “The Saturday before court 20 pigs came out of the woods onto the property,” Vernon said. And she testified to seeing loose pigs while she was out walking the evening before court. It was after the fence was completed.
The commonwealth attorney entered numerous pictures from Vernon into evidence, noting that they were time-stamped, one after 7 p.m.
Baylor told the judge that although the fence was complete and most of the animals were inside, she was struggling to get a few of them in. But she insisted that they were “only a few” at-large. The contractor said they contained 50 to 60 large pigs and 30 to 40 little ones. He also said only “a few babies” were still out.
Abbott testified that he visited Baylor’s property the afternoon before court, walked the entire perimeter of the fence, and confirmed it was complete. He also went to some of the neighbors’ property and saw areas where the pigs had been grubbing and created a large wallow.
The judge rules
Judge Martin told Baylor that since she has an unknown number of pigs still running, he was finding her guilty on all the old charges. But he suspended all of the fines on the condition she keep the pigs contained. He also dismissed all of the new charges filed in September.
“I don’t think you’re taking this matter seriously,” he told her bluntly.
However, because the charges are low-level misdemeanors, “the only thing I can do about it is impose fines. But that’s not going to get rid of the pigs, the judge said speaking directly to a group of Baylor’s neighbors sitting in the courtroom.
“You have three options,” he told them. “Go to circuit court and get an injunction. If she violates it, that judge can throw her in jail. Contact the Department of Wildlife Resources. Their website recommends trapping pigs and killing them. Or if the pigs are on your property and if they’re causing damage, you can shoot them, kill them, and get rid of them.”
Don’t expect me to solve a problem I don’t have the jurisdiction to solve, he told the neighbors.
Outside of the courthouse Abbott said the fines that the judge spared Baylor of totaled about $2000. However, he is not going to stop writing her citations if he finds violations. “But as you heard, it’s not going to do much good,” he said.