N.D. Iowa Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Applying Pit-Bull Ban to Service Dog
In a case that got a lot of media coverage while I was away, Judge Mark Bennett of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa issued a preliminary injunction in Sak v. City of Aurelia, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2011 WL 6826146 (N.D. Iowa, Dec. 28, 2011). The plaintiff, Sak, moved a couple of months ago to Aurelia, along with his service dog, which is a mixed breed with some pit bull ancestry. Aurelia has an ordinance that prohibits people from owning pit bulls within the city limits. After a couple of city council meetings devoted to the issue, city officials directed Sak a couple of weeks ago to kennel his dog outside of the city limits. Sak brought this suit and sought a preliminary injunction, which Judge Bennett (one of the best federal district judges out there) granted. Relying on the new ADA Title II regulations, the court concluded that Sak had demonstrated a likelihood that he would succeed on his claim that the city was required to grant him an exemption from its no-pit-bull ordinance as a reasonable accommodation. The court noted that the Attorney General's preamble to the new regulations specifically addressed breed bans like Aurelia's and explained that they must be modified to permit individuals with disabilities to use their service animals, absent individualized evidence that the particular service animal at issue posed a direct threat to the health or safety of others. Finding the other preliminary injunction factors satisfied, the court granted the requested order.