I have no clue what the issues are in Aurelia, Iowa, a town of about 1,100 people. I am confident that the town wasted time and money which could have been better spent, maybe on improving services for children, helping citizens in need or enhancing their new community center - instead they spent resources taking a service dog away from a new resident, who happens to be a hero.
When Jim Sak - and wife Peggy Leifer, who grew up in in Aurelia - moved from Chicago to the small town (to assist her ailing mother), you'd figure they would have been welcomed with open arms. Instead their service dog, Snickers, was removed.
There's a Pit Bull ban in town, and Snickers is thought to perhaps be part Pit Bull. Aside from the fact that Snickers is friendly and well trained - the legal point is that the Americans for Disabilities Act is very clear that breed (or mix of breeds) isn't a factor for working dogs providing assistance to people.
Jim had suffered a stroke, and Snickers sometimes prevents him from falling, and if he does fall, Snickers helps him to get up.
Never mind Federal law, Snickers was exiled from town, removed from Sak and Leifer. At first, Snickers was kenneled and then stayed in a foster home.
Sak and Leifer were forced to go to court if they wanted their dog back. On Wednesday December 28, U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett granted the motion for preliminary injunction for Snickers to be returned immediately to Sak.
Judge Bennett's ruling carves an exception to the City of Aurelia's ordinance banning Pit Bulls dogs from city limits. Presumably since the ADA guidelines already allow for Pit Bulls, this action was totally necessary because the dog never should have been taken away in the first place.
The hearing tookmore than two hours and was attended by several strangers who felt so strongly about the issue they drove hours to be there.
The Animal Farm Foundation gave this story life, and funded the kennel stay for Snickers, as well as the family's legal team. "Animal Farm Foundation is thrilled that Officer Sak will be reunited with his service dog, Snickers, and his safety will no longer be compromised," says Animal Farm Foundation community engagement specialist Kim Wolf in a statement. " This case is a sad example of what happens when cities discriminate against dogs based on breed or appearance. Breed discriminatory legislation does nothing to enhance public safety, but it's extremely expensive to enforce, it tears apart families, and it divides communities. Hopefully other cities will learn from this and choose alternative approaches to building safe and compassionate communities." -
Click HERE to read the entire story, including an interview with Sak and Leifer - and a comment from an attorney representing Aurelia.