Last week, I noted a story about James Sak, and his dog Snickers. You can find more details here, but the jist of the story is that Sak is a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War and a retired Chicago police officer. Sak suffered a stroke, and has had some disabling after-effects of the stroke. To help him cope with the effects, a physical therapist recommended a service dog for Sak.
In November, Sak, his wife Peggy, and his dog, Snickers, moved to Aurelia, IA to care for Peggy's eldery mother.
About a month into their stay, city authorities confiscated Snickers, because they said owning him was a violation of the community's breed ban -- that bans pit bulls, like Snickers. And even though the city was aware of a recent Department of Justice clarification that SPECIFICALLY mentions that breed bans do not trump the American's with Disabilities Act's allowances for service dogs, the city stuck to it's guns.
And, in what comes as a surprise to almost no one (except, apparently local officials in Aurelia), US District Judge Mark Bennett ruled that the city was in violation of the ADA, and Snickers could return home.
Bennett noted that the city hadn't shown sufficiently shown that Aurelia would suffer "sustainable harm" by Snickers if he was allowed to return home, but that Sak would suffer "sustainable harm" without Snickers.
While this is great news for Snickers and Saks, it also highlights yet another problem with Breed Bans.
The idea behind breed banning is simple: the idea is that there is something genetically "different" with different types of dogs that make them unsafe to be in communities. However, dogs like Snickers, Leo, and thousands of others continue to show that most of these dogs are not only not "naturally aggressive", but actually very beneficial in their therapy and service work.
Once the realization is made (and it HAS to be made at some point when cities have to allow sweet, gentle pit bulls as service dogs), then they HAVE to acknowledge that not all dogs of a particular breed are aggressive.
One that realization is grasped, then the idea of a ban on all dogs of a certain breed is by its very definition an over-inclusive form of legislation -- and thus, not only unconstitutional, but irrational. Especially when a different and more effective form of legislation exists that focuses on the actual behavior of each dog -- and only impacts dogs (and owners that show themselves to be an actual threat to society.
But for now, thankfully Snickers is heading home. And although the city says it may appeal to the state supreme court (because, apparently money grows on trees in Aurelia), I fully expect this court decision to stand -- further bringing to light the irrational nature of breed bans.