A disabled former Chicago police officer heads to trial next year to fight to keep his service dog.
James Sak, 65, had to relinquish Snickers last year under a pit bull ban in Aurelia, Ia. 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.
An Iowa judge later that month ruled in favor of an injunction to allow the pit bull mix to immediately be reunited with Sak. Since then the town hasn't reached a permanent agreement on Snickers' legal ability to stay within town limits.
Sak's attorneys said Friday the town has refused to settle out of court and the case is headed to trial on July 8, 2013. In the meantime, Snickers can stay with Sak.
"Jim has been so strong throughout all of this," said Kim Wolf, community engagement specialist for the Animal Farm Foundation, helping Sak with the case under the Americans with Disabilities Act. "We know of his strength comes from knowing Snickers is waiting for him at home, waiting to do his job as his service animal and his support."
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 from help in an emergency, he said.
Wolf said Sak currently is undergoing treatment at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.
"The worst part of my [cancer] treatment is not having my dog here," Sak said.
Sak and his wife, Peggy Leifer, moved from Chicago to Iowa last month to live closer to sick family.