Tag Archives: service dog

Kingsford Michigan – BSL Exception

John Ketola requires a service animal, unfortunately for John, his dog is 25% Staffordshire Terrier.  According to the city of Kingsford’s 1987 ordinance banning all pit bulls, including mixed or partial breeds, that’s a problem.

Mr. Ketola petitioned the Council for exception based on the unique issue relative to information submitted to City Attorney, Bruce Brouillette.  Brouillette examined the federal statute then issued a recommendation to Council to approve the exception for Ketola’s service dog.

Council agreed at Monday evenings public meeting, however they attached severe limitations and requirements for Mr. Ketola, such as requiring the service dog be securely confined within the Ketola home or in a secure outdoor enclosure with sides, top and permanent bottom and that such enclosure be secured to prevent a minor from entering on his or her own accord.  Also when Mr. Ketola has his service dog in public, the dog must be leashed ona harness and under the direct control of Mr. Ketola.

Related to the Kingsford ban, city resident Mark Wiederrecht provided information countering the ban’s constitutionality and argued it is unnecessary as the city has general ordinances dealing with vicious and dangerous dogs.  Several citizens spoke publicly at the last nights meeting opposing the continuation of the 25 year old ban.

However, City Attorney Brouillette contends the ban is constitutional and valid. Council members continue to raise safety issues and Mayor Michael Flaminio said the committee that was formed in June recommended to make no changes to the ban, but they continue to look at the issue.

Please send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE correspondence to officials in Kingsford at:

Mayor/Councilman Michael Flaminio

Mayor Pro-tem/Councilman Dennis Baldinelli

Councilwoman Cynthia Dixon-Miller

Councilman Jeff Pearson

Councilman Brian Smeester
Email: briansmeester@yahoo.com

All other officials can be contacted with general correspondence directed to:
Phone – 906-774-3526
Email – info@cityofkingsford.com

Aurelia, IA loses court case, “pit bull” service dog returned

Many thanks to Kim for keeping us updated on this case!

Animal Farm Foundation is pleased to announce that the Honorable Judge Mark W. Bennett (http://www.iand.uscourts.gov/e-web/home.nsf/0/17a5762715fa4c52862573c90079072c?OpenDocument ) granted the motion for preliminary injunction for Snickers, a service dog, to be returned immediately to James Sak. Snickers will be returned to Officer Sak’s home in Aurelia later this afternoon.

Judge Bennett’s ruling carves an exception to the City of Aurelia’s ordinance banning “pit bull” dogs from city limits. Sak is a disabled Vietnam Veteran and retired Chicago Police Officer who depends on Snickers for his safety, mobility, and independence.

The hearing took more than two hours. Numerous people came out to support Officer Sak and Snickers, including a number of perfect strangers who drove hours to be there.

“Animal Farm Foundation is thrilled that Officer Sak will be reunited with his service dog, Snickers, and his safety will no longer be compromised. This case is a sad example of what happens when cities discriminate against dogs based on breed or appearance. Breed discriminatory legislation does nothing to enhance public safety, but it’s extremely expensive to enforce, it tears apart families, and it divides communities. Hopefully other cities will learn from this and choose alternative approaches to building safe and compassionate communities.” – Kim Wolf, Community Engagement Specialist, Animal Farm Foundation

“Today I got my peace of mind back. I hope that nobody else has to go through what we went through.” – James Sak

Animal Farm Foundation will continue to support Officer Sak with this case if the City if Aurelia appeals the decision in the United States Court of Appeals.

For additional info/interviews, please contact Kim Wolf at (845) 418-0778 or kwolf@animalfarmfoundation.org.

Recent guidance published by the federal Department of Justice regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act states that service dogs are essentially exempt from municipal breed-specific legislation. The judge in this case upheld the DoJ guidance in favor of Sak.

Note that the ADA exemption does not apply to pet dogs, therapy dogs, or any other dogs that are not employed as service dogs as defined by the ADA. However, the DoJ’s reasoning for the exemption is significant because the same reasons (dogs should be assessed as individuals, breed stereotypes are not reality, a dog’s actual behavior is more relevant than appearance, etc.) could also apply to pet dogs. Don’t count on the DoJ or any other federal entity to jump in and help pet dog owners fight BSL, though. Federal government doesn’t have the authority to create dog control laws. For pet dogs, your state and local laws will continue to apply.

Here are a few of the news articles about the outcome:





Denver, CO: Breed ban exceptions for service dogs may be on horizon

After decades with ban, Denver revisits pit bulls

August 24, 2010
By Jared Jacang Maher, Face The State

Pit bulls, outlawed from Denver more than 20 years ago, will be allowed back into city limits as service animals under a proposed law being considered today by the city council’s safety committee.

Read the rest of the story here: 


U.S. Dept. of Justice: BSL has no place in ADA

In this July 2010 revision of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, the U.S. Department of Justice has rejected some commenters’ opinions that certain breeds of dogs should be excluded as service animals. The Department also reaffirms their position that local breed-specific laws do not apply to service dogs.


Revised ADA Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III

(Updated July 29, 2010)

Title II: Final Rule amending 28 CFR Part 35: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services

Breed limitations. A few commenters suggested that certain breeds of dogs should not be allowed to be used as service animals. Some suggested that the Department should defer to local laws restricting the breeds of dogs that individuals who reside in a community may own. Other commenters opposed breed restrictions, stating that the breed of a dog does not determine its propensity for aggression and that aggressive and non-aggressive dogs exist in all breeds.

The Department 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. Such deference would have the effect of limiting the rights of persons with disabilities under the ADA who use certain service animals based on where they live rather than on whether the use of a particular animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Breed restrictions differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have no breed restrictions. Others have restrictions that, while well-meaning, have the unintended effect of screening out the very breeds of dogs that have successfully served as service animals for decades without a history of the type of unprovoked aggression or attacks that would pose a direct threat, e.g., German Shepherds. Other jurisdictions prohibit animals over a certain weight, thereby restricting breeds without invoking an express breed ban. In addition, deference to breed restrictions contained in local laws would have the unacceptable consequence of restricting travel by an individual with a disability who uses a breed that is acceptable and poses no safety hazards in the individual´s home jurisdiction but is nonetheless banned by other jurisdictions. State and local government entities have the ability to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal´s actual behavior or history–not based on fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave. This ability to exclude an animal whose behavior or history evidences a direct threat is sufficient to protect health and safety.

Miami-Dade, FL: Pit bulls skirt law by being used as service dogs

The article is–unfortunately–sensational, biased, and poorly researched (how hard could it be to find and interview a service dog trainer who isn’t disturbingly breed biased?), but it does touch on many issues related to BSL, such as deeply ingrained breed stereotypes.

Service or menace? Pit bulls skirt law by being used as service dogs

A growing group of pit bull owners says the animals are ideal service dogs — a designation that exempts them from Miami-Dade’s ban of the breed, which some say is instinctively dangerous.


Within the past year, Miami-Dade Animal Services has registered about half a dozen pit bulls as service animals for people with disabilities, in what investigator supervisor Kathy Labrada called an emerging trend.

Read the rest of the story here: 


Colorado: Lawsuit says Denver’s, Aurora’s bans violate civil rights under ADA

Pit bulls as service dogs?

Lawsuit says Denver’s, Aurora’s bans violate civil rights under ADA

Jared Jacang Maher, Face the State
Friday, May 7, 2010

Both Denver and Aurora have laws banning pit bulls. […] But what about a pit bull acting as a service animal for a disabled person? Should officials accept dogs that their own laws deem inherently unacceptable?

Good question and one that happens to be at the core of a new federal class-action lawsuit filed against Denver and Aurora by three disabled people who say the laws banning pit bulls violate their civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Allen Grider of Aurora and Glenn Belcher of Denver are U.S. veterans who suffer from psychological disabilities they say resulted from wartime service. Valarie Piltz is a Washington-based dog trainer with physical mobility problems and a condition that causes her to experience debilitating panic attacks. All three say the breed bans fail to make proper exemptions for their service animals of choice: pit bulls.

Story retrieved May 7, 2010 from http://www.thedenverdailynews.com/article.php?aID=8357