Pictured (left to right): John Shearer, Scott
Wilson, Theresa Baumgardner, Meg Turner, Frank Manske,
Gary McKinnis, Sue Greeway (homeowner), Jason Beeler
On Saturday 13-Jan-2001
we hauled 10,000 lbs of junk out of the Greenway's backyard
and took it to the dump. Sue was also able to finally
serve a 30 day notice to her deadbeat tenants so we
hope she is about to turn a corner.
This little piggie could stay home
* Coverage prompts
groups to help Concord family clean their yard so the city
won't take Hamlet, a 300-pound potbellied pig, away
CONCORD -- Bobby
and Sierra-Sue Greenway's 15-minute brush with fame started
at 6 in the morning and lasted 14 hours.
The couple had
lived a low-profile life until then, coping with their problems
as most people do -- behind closed doors.
But when Concord
threatened to remove the couple's pet, a 300-pound potbellied
pig named Hamlet, because of zoning code violations, the Greenways
went public with their story.
On Jan. 4, they
got more than they had asked for.
Triggered by a
Times story about the pig that morning, six television news
crews knocked on the Greenways' door starting at 6 a.m. They
filled the cramped house near Meadow Lane with lights, cameras
and studiously sympathetic reporters.
The crews made
the extremely obese, nearly blind pig struggle to a standing
position. They aired video of the junk in the Greenways' front
and back yards. KTVU launched an opinion poll on its Web site
seeking comments on whether the couple was abusing their pig.
A week later,
the news coverage has died down, but Sierra-Sue Greenway said
she still feels the emotional effects of the media blitz.
Mostly, she feels
betrayed by the media and the mocking tone they adopted, the
44-year-old woman said.
"It was a sensational
news ratings story," she said Thursday as her hulking pig
slept at her feet under a blanket. "It was a circus. They
didn't take into account that it was his or my life. They
found it humorous, but I take this very seriously."
Kim Yonenaka stands by her story, which was the first about
the pig to air.
"We made no jokes
about it," Yonenaka said. "I just presented the story and
did that very conscientiously because she was so upset over
the pig and she was crying."
Aiming to get
Hamlet on the Oakland-based station's 7 a.m. morning show,
Yonenaka and her crew awoke the Greenways before dawn and
gave them two minutes to get ready for the cameras, Greenway
News crews camped
out on the couple's front yard until 8 that night, she said.
getting calls between 4 and 5, you're waking someone up and
it's borderline rude," Yonenaka said. "It's a fine line, definitely.
In the case of the pig, I said, 'Why not?' She can just say
no or not answer the door."
welcomed the attention.
appealing to news organizations for the past few months, she
saw the sudden media coverage as a wish finally granted, she
Even after seeing
what Greenway felt was KTVU's condescending story in the morning,
she continued to let cameras into her house, she said.
"I didn't enjoy
a minute of it," Greenway said. "But I was afraid to turn
anybody away because I kept thinking, 'What if the person
I turned away was the one to help my baby?'"
If anything, Greenway
said, the experience taught an important public relations
you say anything," she said. "Just watch yourself."
But Greenway admits
the news coverage has drawn offers of help from pet-owner
groups, the local Libertarian Party -- which opposes nearly
all government intrusion into personal rights -- and even
the couple's mail carrier, Tina Green.
"I thought it
was too cool," Green said about the news coverage while stopping
by the house Thursday. "Whatever happens, Sue, I hope you
On Saturday, Libertarian
Party representative Frank Manske, Voices for Pets President
Leroy Moyer and about a dozen other volunteers helped the
Greenways clean up their property, which has been a target
of city abatement orders for months.
to see that Hamlet continues to live in the home of the family,
whatever that takes," Moyer said. "If the other problems are
taken care of, the city won't have an interest in just the
the city declared the property a public nuisance, said Lon
Carlston, a city neighborhood preservation specialist.
It is seeking
a court warrant to remove Hamlet, he said.
The city's abatement
order cites broken windows, faulty plumbing and trash on the
property. It also asserts the Greenways have violated city
codes that prohibit livestock on properties smaller than 20,000
"I don't want
to hurt the pig, not in any way," Carlston said. "Our intent
is to get it to a good home where people will take care of
it the way it should be taken care of."
On Thursday, Moyer
paid Danville veterinarian Nolan Sharp to look at Hamlet and
recommend a weight-loss plan.
With arms crossed,
Sharp studied the pig, which was vainly trying to walk backward
as great pockets of its fat dragged on the living room's shag
from a thyroid deficiency that has depressed his metabolism
and sparked the intense weight gain, Sharp said.
The pig could
suffer a heart attack at any moment if he does not quickly
lose weight, he said.
"He's not the
biggest I've seen, but he's large," Sharp said. "He's about
to break down that back and rupture a disc. I give him only
a 10 percent chance that he's going to lose any weight, so
the prognosis is grave. These pigs are so cute at first, and
their owners keep feeding them. They spoil them with kindness."