After nearly a year of fighting, a disabled former Chicago police officer gets to keep his service dog for good.
The City Council of Aurelia, Ia., reached a settlement this week with James Sak, 65, and his wife Peggy Leifer to permanently allow Sak's dog, Snickers, to remain at the couple's home.
“It feels like I got my heart back,” Sak said in a statement. “We’re just glad it’s finally over.”
Sak had to relinquish Snickers last year under an Aurelia pit bull ban and was forced to send the pit bull mix to a boarding facility outside town.
The retired officer took the matter to court, arguing he needs the dog to walk, balance and call from help in an emergency. The two originally were paired at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago.
An Iowa judge ruled in favor of an injunction to allow Snickers and Sak to immediately be reunited, but the case was slated for trial on July 8, 2013.
The council voted 3-2 this week in favor of a settlement allowing the dog's permanent return and a spot at the home with Leifer in the event that Sak precedes the dog in passing. The settlement notes Sak and Leifer must maintain an eight-foot fence in their backyard, which they built last year.
“We are happy to have resolved the matter to the mutual satisfaction of all the parties,” said Attorney Sharon Malheiro. “We hope that Snickers will serve as an example for other 'pit bull' service dogs in the future.”