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

Updated 12/28/11 – 9:25 p.m.

AURELIA, Iowa (CBS) — A retired Chicago Police Officer and his wife are celebrating, now that a federal judge has allowed the officer’s service dog to live with the couple in their home even though the town bans pit bulls.

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..

The dog had to be kept outside of Aurelia, Iowa, where Jim Sak and his wife, Peggy, live. Aurelia has banned pit bulls, and laid down the law that Snickers had to go, even though Snickers had been Jim Sak’s service dog since Sak had a stroke more than three years ago. The retired cop said he needs Snickers.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“That’s my savior, my everything,” Sak said Wednesday. “My wife can’t sleep with me because this hand likes to go every which way and, with Snickers, he lays on it, so it don’t go nowhere. And he knows that if he lays on it, he’s safe.”

sak dog reunion 1 Retired Chicago Cop Gets To Keep Service Dog Despite Iowa Towns Rule

Retired Chicago cop Jim Sak is reunited with his service dog, Snickers, who is part pit bull. (Sak Family Photo)

So the Saks went to federal court, and they have won at least a temporary victory, now that a judge has questioned the ordinance.

“He said he doesn’t believe that’s the intention of the law. He’s going to research it more,” Peggy Sak said.

Jim Sak says somebody finally listened.

“The judge did the talking for me,” he said.

Now, Peggy Sak says, she and her husband are celebrating the decision to bring Snickers back home.

“We just started shaking, and I started crying,” she said.

Jim 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.

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, according to the Animal Farm Foundation, which has been assisting the Saks in the case.

Sak said he is still upset with the way all pit bulls are lumped together.

“As soon as they talk about pit bulls, the first thing comes out of their mouth is ‘They maul the person,’” Sak said. “What about the ones that are good? And the ones that help people? Not the ones that have been trained how to fight.”

Wednesday’s ruling was just a temporary win for the Saks. The lawsuit is far from over, as they try to fight the pit bull ban and ensure that snickers can live with them forever.

  • the rapture

    short sighted and a town that is living in the dark ages of ‘fear everything’ – good to hear that the dog can be with the family – as it should have been all along

    • Afro

      Look who’s Snickering now :)

  • Kenneth Newman

    Pit bulls are still dangerous. The number of dogs and people bit and killed in Florida over the years by pit bulls is huge. maybe this man needs to keep the dog but have a cage over his mouth when he takes the dog outside.

    • Roberta Waker

      All dogs are dangerous if they aren’t trained right. Over the last three years I have witnessed attacks by dogs other than pit bulls, who have attacked children for no reason. Glad to see Jim got Snickers back – he needs him. This town needs common sense; one bite resulted in a ban? Wonder what they would do if someone was stabbed – outlaw knives? I agree with the rapture that they are living in the dark ages.

    • Afro

      Kenneth Newman

      Put a cage over your mouth

    • Rstac

      Pure ignorance! Any dog is dangerous if its raised/trained poorly.

  • TIM


    • Lydia

      They have done that in many cities, and bite statistics have gone up. Don’t believe me? Research it. You’re ignorance is sad. I feel sorry for you. You respond to an issue with ignorance, not facts. We support you Officer Saks. You are an American hero.

    • Oriel Lorraine

      The sad thing is most dogs that are called pitbulls aren’t even pittbulls. Bully breeds have many different breeds of dogs sharing the same lineage from the English bulldog. I have a staffy-beagle mix and it really angers me about the current legislation in some of these states and countries. Any dog has the potential to be vicious, I almost got attacked by a labrador but don’t hate the breed.
      Education and harsher penalties for dog breeders/fighters need to be taken more seriously. I hope people become more educated about this as I see the fear in some peoples eyes when they identify or mention a pittbull.

      It’s funny with the current surge of people getting Labradors I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up having temperament issues due to the constant breeding of these animals.

      My point is a dog is a dog, not a human being!

  • Roberta Waker

    Good points, Oriel. It does boil down to training. I have seen retrievers, labs, chihuahuas, poodles, and various other breeds attack for no reason; but they don’t have a bad rap like pits. Years ago Dobermans were the “bad” breed. ANY dog bred to fight will be mean no matter what the breed, but MOST of them can be rehabilitated. Snickers is a fine example of what pit bulls and mixes can be trained to do.

  • Kelly Ayres

    Someone needs to start a petition for ‘Snickers’ to stay with Mr. Sak.

  • Animal Lover.

    I do not quite understand how one incident of a Pitbull bite has led to a ban when I am sure there are many instances of Yorkie bites but no Yorkie bans are in place. It is not any more cute when a Yorkie bites than when a Pitbull bites. I am tired of the discrimination against specific breeds. Why are people so ignorant? How is it that in a country where we have access to anything we desire, education is not more sought out?

  • Robert Quattrocchi

    You go Jimmy ! . You were always a fighter back as a kid Sorry , you are having some health problems. Your best grade school friend I am still living in Chicago and doing well. Never got married BOBBY ” Q “

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