Court Date Set For Retired Cop Fighting To Keep Service Dog

UPDATED 12/27/11 5:58 a.m.

AURELIA, Iowa (CBS) — A disabled former Chicago police officer who’s been forced to give up his service dog now has a court date scheduled to try to get the dog back.

Snickers is a pit bull mix and, since retired Chicago Police Officer Jim Sak had a stroke in 2008, Snickers has been his service dog.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

But Sak and his wife moved to Aurelia, Iowa, in November so Sak’s wife could take care of her elderly mother and Aurelia bans pit bulls. That includes Snickers.

Sak filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Aurelia last week, claiming the pit bull ban violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We’re lost without him around,” Jim sak’s wife, Peggy Sak, said last week. “Jim is a lot more stoic than I am; it has to do with his training, I think, as a police officer. But we’re just flummoxed by the whole thing.”

Federal law guarantees people with disabilities the right to service dogs, regardless of breed.

Aurelia outlawed pit bulls in 2008, after one bit a meter reader. But that does not mean the town can steamroll over rights guaranteed by federal law, the Animal Farm Foundation.

The advocacy group the Animal Farm Foundation was hopeful there would be an emergency hearing and that Snickers might be reunited with Sak in time for Christmas.

That did not happen, but Sak tells WBBM Newsradio that a court date has been set for Wednesday.

The mayor of Aurelia, Iowa, has declined to comment.

  • Roberta Waker

    The ONE person that complained about the dog AND the city council that violated Jim’s rights should be taking care of him since they took away his service dog. These people are heartless and should ALL be fired, fined, and jailed for violating his Constitutional Rights as a disabled person. He’s a retired POLICE OFFICER and a VETERAN, for gosh sakes. Are these people for real? Would they take away a wheelchair from a paralyzed person, too because it violated some stupid law? Hope Jim Sak cleans ALL their clocks and gets his dog back. This town should stop receiving ANY and ALL Federal aid. How can anyone be so heartless as to take away this man’s only support to help him live a somewhat normal life? They are being inhumane to this brave man and they should ALL be ashamed ot themselves.

  • Roberta Waker

    Sorry about the typo, they should be ashamed OF themselves.

  • bonita del rey

    Too bad the courts could not get it together to at least get an injunction about removing the dog. How any person or collection of people can conspire to deprive a disabled citizen/former police officer, veteran of his guaranteed rights is beyond understanding. Even without exact knowledge of the law, even common sense would tell you this is wrong.

  • jq

    Aurelia is a smart town. I wish Chicago would ban Pit Bulls.

    • Roberta Waker

      If a ban on handguns in Chicago hasn’t stopped the shootings, what makes you think a ban on pit bulls would stop any dog attacks? Besides, this article is about a pit bull mix that was trained as a service dog so Snickers must be pretty special. The people that took this dog away should be taking care of Mr. Sak; maybe they would see how valuable services dogs are to their owners. Wake up, Aurelia, you are wrong, wrong, wrong for what you did to this man AND his dog.

    • Jeanne

      So lobby for the change, plenty of other folks have done it. All you have to do is be willing to kill thousands of animals that have been well raised and properly socialized; be willing to allow other dogs to live, even if they have done bad things as long as they’re fluffy; ignore the experience of most of the places who have done what you’re thinking, including Denver; ignore every bit of research done on the subject; and defend that level of ignorance with your tax dollars as you’re challenged in the courts again and again. But I say that if your “feelings” are that strong, you owe it to yourself to pursue them over thoughts and reason.

  • Captain America

    i say boycott iowa potatoes…..creeps, i have a service dog as a vet i need this “part” of me….shame on them, judge best do this case right or vote him out….

    • Jeanne

      Idaho is the potato state, not Iowa.

  • Barbara Malkowski

    I feel for Jim and Snickers, and the company I work for may be able to help.
    We provide animal liability coverage, and it is quick and affordable and available online. I don’t know how to get in touch with Jim, but
    he can contact our office at 800-456-4576 X 7815. We could provide a stand alone animal liability policy to meet the city requirements and ovver $100,000 in liability coverage for a reasonable premium.

    If we can help it would be great, but mostly we hope Jim and Snickers are reunited.


    Barbara Malkowski
    Prime Insurance Company

    • Lydia Zaidman

      Hi Barbara,

      First, let me say, your company helped me find insurance when nobody would. I have a non-profit that rescues and advocates for this beautiful breed, We also have an ALL pit bull therapy dog organization that helps autistic, disabled, and other congenitally disabled children. This could not have happened without a simple thing like insurance (which we have never needed). Discrimination is funny. But, these laws are stupid. They don’t care if the dog has insurance or if it is the kindest dog on earth. That’s what discrimination is– they don’t use logic.

      • Erin R.

        As a member of Love-a-bull, I am very thankful for your company as well. I benefit greatly from this organization’s existence (as does my little Lilah) and knowing that there are great companies like yours that help them to continue gladdens my heart. :)

  • maura

    Good Lord they banned the whole breed? Let this fellow have his dog- this is crazy. This is a reasonable couple, retired law enforcement- why would he violate his life ethics?- he is not a “dog fighter”
    Cut him some slack and be a little flexible

  • maura

    How about if people chipped in to help pay for liability insurancde for the guy and his dog??

    • Jeanne

      Because it’s not about liability insurance? Because it’s illegal to own the dog no matter how well you’re insured? Just a couple of reasons, but I’m sure there are more.

  • Retired Chicago Cop Gets To Keep Service Dog Despite Iowa Town’s Rule « CBS Chicago

    […] As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the dog, Snickers, was boarded at the vet in a cage for a while, and then he was in a foster home. […]

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