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.”
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.