(Animal News) James Sak, a former police officer, was finally reunited with his service dog Snickers after enduring a separation due to a ban on pit bulls in his Iowa city. Sak suffered a stroke and depends on Snickers’ assistance to alert his wife in case of emergency. Because of the law in the city of Aurelia, Sak was left with two choices – give up his service dog or have Snickers killed. Global Animal wonders why it took this Iowa city so long to recognize the fact and the law that a service animal is not a pet. Read what Sak did to get his beloved pit bull back, and tell us what you think about pit bull bans. —Global Animal
MSNBC, Lisa Balde
A federal judge in Iowa ruled Wednesday in favor of an injunction to allow Snickers, a pit bull mix, to be reunited with owner James Sak immediately.
Earlier this month, Sak, 65, had to relinquish Snickers under a pit bull ban in Aurelia, Iowa. After a city council vote, Sak was asked Dec. 14 to remove the dog from town, and Snickers was sent to a boarding facility outside Aurelia.
The two were reunited Wednesday afternoon.
“Today I got my peace of mind back,” Sak said. “I hope that nobody else has to go through what we went through.”
Sak suffered a stroke in 2008 that left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to use the right side of his body. He was paired at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago with Snickers, who helps him walk, balance and call for help in an emergency, he said.
Sak and his wife, Peggy Leifer, moved from Chicago to Iowa last month to live closer to sick family. After Snickers’ removal, Leifer said she couldn’t leave her husband alone.
The couple filed a motion for injunction, granted Wednesday during a two-hour hearing in Sioux City.
Kim Wolf, a community engagement specialist for the Animal Farm Foundation helping Sak with the case under the Americans with Disabilities Act, said numerous people came out to support Sak and Snickers, including strangers who drove hours to be there.
Snickers helps James Sak walk, balance and call for help in emergencies. Sak had to relinquish the service dog earlier this month because of a ban on pit bulls in Aurelia, Iowa.
“Animal Farm Foundation is thrilled that Officer Sak will be reunited with his service dog, Snickers, and his safety will no longer be compromised,” Wolf said. “This case is a sad example of what happens when cities discriminate against dogs based on breed or appearance.”
The city now has the opportunity to appeal the motion. Wolf said they’re prepared to fight it.
“We will continue to stand by Officer Sak and Snickers regardless of how far they go. We’re behind them the whole way.”