UPDATE: Aurelia, IA man says goodbye to service dog - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Aurelia, IA man says goodbye to service dog


A ban on pit-bulls in a Northwest Iowa town has left a disabled veteran fighting to get his dog back.

Jim Sak, a retired Chicago police officer, is suing the city of Aurelia, Iowa.

The issue, a ban on pit bulls in the town. But the dog is more than a pet, he is also a service dog.

Snickers is a five and a half year old mixed breed dog, part boxer, part lab, part pit-bull. But that last breed raised the eyebrows of city government.

"We didn't come here to start trouble. We didn't know anything about this," said Jim Sak of Aurelia, IA.

Jim Sak and Peggy Leifer just moved to Aurelia, Iowa in November to help Peggy's elderly mother.

But the town of Aurelia has an ordinance banning pit bulls.

Snickers is not a pet, he is a service dog. Snickers literally helps Jim get back on his feet.

"If I fall on my back, I can grab that collar which is the police collar by the way from Chicago and I can pick myself up," said Sak.

Sak a retired Chicago police officer, suffered a stroke leaving him with limited use of his right hand and leg. 

"We've moved here to try to help my mother out and as it's turned out, my mother has been having to help us out," said Peggy Leifer.

Even without a history of aggression, city officials recently banned Snickers from city limits separating Jim, from a vital part of his independence.

While Snickers was moved to a kennel outside of town.

"It's made it real difficult because we're kind of trapped in our own home now," said Leifer.

It's also taking a toll on Snickers' health. Sak says Snickers' hair is falling out and the dog has hives on his underside.

So while Jim and Peggy fight to get Snickers back, the Animal Farm Foundation will temporarily keep the dog.

"Snickers will travel over 250 miles to stay with a foster home," said Mark Victoria of KTIV.

"Until we get clearance from our attorneys' that it's ok to bring him back, he's going to reside in Iowa City," said Leifer.

"I feel we were railroaded and I've been told not to say bad things, but I truly feel like we were railroaded," said Leifer.

And now stranded, separated, and heartbroken

"It's going to hurt. I'm not even going to lie about that. I am going to feel really bad that he's not here. He belongs here with me. He's supposed to help me," said Sak.

We attempted to talk to Aurelia city officials and they declined to comment.

Meanwhile, a hearing in federal court will be held Wednesday here in Sioux City.

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