For 32 years after that, he served the city of Chicago as a tactical officer in the police department.
Last month, the retired cop moved to the small town of Aurelia, Iowa, to help serve his ailing 87-year-old mother in law.
And here’s what Aurelia, Iowa, has served him: Notice that his service dog, who helps him cope with the effects of a stroke, can’t live there.
The 65-year-old disabled veteran has shipped Snickers to a kennel outside of town after city officials threatened to seize and destroy the dog, a five-year-old — you guessed it — pit bull.
Days after moving into their new home, Sak and his wife were summoned to a town council meeting after a group of citizens circulated a petition calling for the dog to be removed from city limits.
The council voted December 14 to prohibit the dog from residing within Aurelia city limits — a move the Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) says, despite a local breed ban, violates 2010 guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on breed limitations for service dogs.
Attorneys representing AFF filed a request for a preliminary injunction earlier today, asking a judge to order Snickers immediately be returned to Sak. An expedited hearing was requested, and AFF says it hopes to see Snickers back with Sak by Christmas.
AFF maintains that, because Snickers works as a service animal for a disabled person, the dog is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and should not be subject to the breed ban.
The Department of Justice said last year it “does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks.”
Snickers has no history of aggression or nuisance complaints, the AFF says.
In 2008, Sak suffered a stroke that left him unable to use the right side of his body, and in a wheelchair.
For two years Sak worked with Aileen Eviota, a physical therapist with the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, to learn to live more independently through the use of a service dog.
“Snickers has been individually trained to assist James with tasks which mitigate his disability, including walking, balance, and retrieving items around the house,” Eviota wrote in a letter to the Aurelia Town Council dated December 2, 2011.
The Animal Farm Foundation says it has hired an attorney to represent the Sak family and is paying to board the dog at the out-of-town kennel.
“It’s about the injustice of this man having his service dog taken away — this man who is a Vietnam War veteran and a retired Chicago police officer who has always given back to the community,” said executive director Stacy Coleman.
“This town has taken away this man’s independence, his peace of mind, and his freedom to move about his house, go out in public and keep from having to go to a nursing home with 24-hour care. He’s physically in danger without his dog.”
Aurelia passed its breed specific ban in March of 2008, after a meter reader was bitten by a pit bull, according to the Chicago Sun-Times
Peggy Leifer, Jim’s wife, told the Sun-Times she and her husband weren’t aware of the ban when they moved, and that she’s “appalled and embarrassed by the town I grew up in…They have made our lives a living hell since we got here.”
“They called us to a city council meeting Dec. 14 and voted 3 to 2 to make no exceptions. I had to get him out of the house by the next day. That dog has never been away from us a night in his life. He’s the sweetest, most good-natured dog you’d ever want to meet,” Peggy Sak said.
“I lost my helper,” Jim Sak said. “I’m not looking for special treatment, I just want to be safe, and I need my service dog for that.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, americans with disablities act, animal farm foundation, animals, aurelia, breed ban, breed-specific, chicago, cop, council, destroy, disabilities, disabled, dogs, filed, injunction, iowa, jim sak, justice department, officer, pets, pit bull, police, retired, seize, service, service dog, snickers, sought, stroke, threats, town, veteran, victim, vietnam
A Colorado Springs attorney accused of not allowing a disabled woman and her service dog into his office because he feared his new carpet might be soiled will pay $50,000 as part of a consent decree approved by a federal court today.
A November 2009 complaint accused Patric LeHouillier of violating the Americans with Disabilities act by barring Joan Murnane, a veterinarian with brain and other injuries that affect her balance, from entering his law office because her service dog was with her.
That decision, under the consent decree, will cost him $50,000 – $30,000 for Murnane, $10,000 for her husband and another $10,000 for a civil penalty.
“For almost two decades, the ADA has ensured that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full and equal access to public accommodations, both large and small,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is unrelenting in [eradicating] discrimination against people with disabilities and ensuring that owners and operators of public accommodations recognize their obligations to provide equal access.”
The consent decree was approved by Judge Marcia S. Krieger in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Under its terms, LeHouillier and his firm will be required to adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and post the policy in a conspicuous location, post a “Service Animals Welcome” sign, and provide training to staff.
The press release noted that a service animal is any animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability — and that the classification is not limited to dogs that assist the blind.
It includes, the press release says, dogs who alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, warn persons about impending seizures or other medical conditions, perform tasks for persons with psychiatric disabilities and provide physical supports for individuals with mobility issues.
More information about the ADA, including how to file an ADA complaint with the Justice Department, is available on the ADA home page at www.ada.gov.
The Justice Department also has a toll-free ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).
Posted by jwoestendiek March 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, american with disabilities act, attorney, carpet, colorado springs, complaint, consent decree, disability, dogs, federal court, fined, joan murnane, lawyer, news, ohmidog!, patric lehouillier, pets, physical, psychiatric, service animals, service dog, veterinarian
The sun will come out tomorrow — at least it did for Macy.
Macy was a scruffy little mutt, picked up as a stray and taken to Pontotoc County Animal Welfare Society in Ada, Oklahoma — a facility that generally holds dogs for three days before “deciding their future.”
(Meaning, especially in times of shelter overcrowding, whether they are going to have one.)
Macy, though unadopted and unclaimed, managed to stay there for several months, but as time passed her chances were growing dimmer.
She caught a break when she was chosen for a prison dog program called New Leash on Life at the CCA-Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville, Okla. But it turned out to be a temporary reprieve.
“Unfortunately, despite being a model student, Macy was the only dog at the end of the program scheduled to return to a kill shelter instead of an adoptive home or no-kill rescue,” according to RockySpot Rescue in Newcastle.
Macy’s future was looking pretty bleak again when, after her time in the prison program, RockySpot rescue took her in. RockySpot put a photo of Macy on its website, in hopes of finding her a home.
Another three months had passed when her picture was spotted by Bill Berloni, who trains animals for Broadway shows.
Berloni flew in from New York to look at her, and he liked what he saw.
Macy will be performing on Broadway, playing the role of Sandy in the musical “Annie.”
The moral of the story? Every time an orphaned dog is “euthanized,” a potential happy ending bites the dust.
(Photo: RockySpot Rescue)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, animals, annie, bill berloni, broadway, dog, dogs, happy ending, homeless, macy, mutt, new leash on life, newcastle, oklahoma, orphan, orphaned, performing, pets, pontotoc county, prison, program, rescue, rocky spot rescue, rockyspot rescue, sandy, shelter, stray
Topping the list is Point Isabel Dog Park in Richmond, California, recognized for its scenery, wide range of free activities, swimming holes and on-site cafe — all set on 23 leash-free acres.
Here’s the rest of the top five.
2. Dog Wood Dog Park in Jacksonville, Florida offers 25 acres of fenced play area, swimming, Frisbee fields, a sand pile for digging, and park-provided toys. There are designated areas for small dogs. Dues runs $289 annually, though day passes are available.
3. Jackson’s Howabaloo Dog Park in Edinboro, Pennsylvania features swimming and hiking, a play area just for special needs dogs. Dues runs $269 annually, but monthly and daily passes are available.
4. Fort Woof in Fort Worth, Texas has free admission, special events and the added benefit of being open after the sun goes down. The park is well-lit and stays open until 11:30 p.m.
5. Shaggy Pines Dog Park in Ada, Michigan has jogging and hiking trails, a swimming pond and play areas for different sized dogs. There’s also a coffee bar and lounge. Membership starts at $256 per year.
Rounding out the list are Bea Arthur Dog Park in Norfolk, Va.; Tompkins Square Dog Run in New York City; Ossining Dog Park in Westchester, N.Y.; Rocky Top Dog Park in Kingston, N.J.; and Happy Tails Dog Park in Plantation, Fla.
For the dog park list, Petside.com says it took into consideration amenities, activities, hours of operation, and cost of entry.
(Photo of Jimmy at Point Isabel Dog Park, by Michael V., via Yelp.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acres, ada, admission, amenities, america, bea arthur dog park, best, california, dog, dog parks, dog wood dog park, dogs, edinboro, fort woof, fort worth, happy tails dog park, jackson's howlabaloo, list, michigan, ossining dog park, parks, petside.com, point isabel, richmond, rocky top dog park, shaggy pines dog park, swimming, texas, tompkins square dog run, top, top ten, u.s.
Dog Fancy magazine has released its annual list of America’s Best Dog Parks – and the winner is … Freedom Bark Park in Lowell, Indiana.
“It’s never easy to create a dog park, but particularly in a small community that doesn’t even allow leashed dogs in regular parks,” explains Dog Fancy Editor Susan Chaney. “The way dog lovers pulled together in Lowell impressed us. Also factoring into our decision were the digging areas so dogs can do what they love to do and the environmental efforts of the Freedom Bark Park Committee.”
Every year, Dog Fancy asks its readers to submit nominations for America’s best dog park. Parks must have fencing, double gates and free clean-up bags to be considered. Parks are then judged based on a list of standards including: water for dogs and their people, shade, lights, parking availability and accessibility, support organizations and special events, among others.
The rest of the top ten were:
- Dog Wood Dog Park, Jacksonville, Fla.
- Howard and Erna Soldan Dog Park, Lansing, Mich.
- Cheyenne Park Off-Leash Area, Ely, Iowa
- Jackson’s Howlabaloo Dog Park, Edinboro, Pa.
- Happy Tails Dog Park, Dunedin, Fla.
- Shaggy Pines Dog Park, Ada, Mich.
- Ossining Dog Park, Ossining, N.Y.
- Dogwood Park at Victor Ashe Park, Knoxville, Tenn.
- Millie Bush Bark Park, Houston, Texas.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, america, best, cheyenne park off-leash area, dog fancy, dog parks, dog wood dog park, dogwood park, dunedin, edinboro, ely, freedom bark park, happy tails dog park, houston, howard and erna soldan dog park, indiana, jackson's howlabaloo dog park, jacksonville, knoxville, lansing, leash law, list, lowell, magazine, millie bush bark park, nation, ossining, ossining dog park, shaggy pines dog park, top ten, u.s., unleashed