"Pit Bull" ban keeps disabled man from service dog
AURELIA, Iowa (KTIV) -
A "pit bull" ban in Aurelia, Iowa, has a disabled Siouxland veteran fighting the city for his dog. But, this pup is more than a pal, he's an aid. He's the only way his owner can be left alone safely.
In 2008, retired Chicago police officer Jim Sak suffered a stroke that left him disabled with limited use of his right hand and leg.
"If Jim is walking his right leg has a tendency to, the ankle, flip in," said Jim's wife Peggy Leifer.
It can cause Jim to fall and hurt himself. So, he got Snickers, a certified service dog that keeps his balance while walking, gets him up, even goes for help.
"All Jim has to do is say, 'Go get Mommy,' and the dog comes and finds me," said Peggy.
In their almost five years together the two became more than buddies, they became equals.
"He's our kid, he works his tail off for us," said Jim.
But in November, shortly after moving to Aurelia to be closer to Peggy's ailing mother, Jim's heart was broken. Snickers, a pit bull mix, was banned by the city's dog ordinance. Jim's best friend now sits in a kennel outside of town suffering from anxiety.
"He's got hives on his underside, his hair is just falling out," said Jim.
Jim has suffered too, he's fallen twice and his need for supervision is stretching his wife thin.
"I am unable to go off and leave Jim alone, because if he does fall, I'll come home and maybe find him on the floor," said Peggy.
The family is fighting to get Snickers back though. They've filled a lawsuit against the city claiming Snickers is cleared by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"That dog's my life, you don't just take him away from me," said Jim.
Our calls to Aurelia city officials weren't immediately returned. There's a hearing, next Wednesday, on the matter in federal court, in Sioux City.
Jim, and his family, say they're actually glad this is happening to them, so in the future, no one will have to suffer their heartbreak.