Veteran faces giving up pit bull therapy dog or leaving town
BELLEVILLE, KS (KCTV) -
A veteran suffered from post-traumatic stress after his tour overseas could either be forced to move or give up his therapy dog because Diesel is a Pit Bull Terrier.
Bo Ready has an attorney and is hoping to get the city ordinance changed.
"This dog is more than a companion. It provides a service to him. It comforts him when he's having an anxiety attack," said Katie Barnett, who is co-counsel for Ready.
Belleville is a small town just south of the Nebraska border. The ban on pit bulls, boxers and Rottweilers dates back years.
Belleville City Attorney Rachel Zenger said the ordinance is clear and only registered service dogs are allowed an exception. Diesel provides comfort to Ready.
Ready would like to get Diesel trained as a service dog once he can afford it. In the meantime, more than 500 supporters as well as psychiatrists and other medical professionals have written city leaders in support of Diesel and lifting the ban.
But Zenger said the council isn't budging.
"It was taken into consideration by the council, and they felt it was the best decision for Belleville to continue to ban certain breeds," she said.
Bo Ready joined the Kansas Army National Guard in 2005, and he is still a mechanic.
In 2009, Bo Ready was sent to Egypt and did a tour of a year. When he returned to Kansas, he faced serious emotional and mental issues. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and severe depression.
"I would blow up and break things, and sometimes it would be the smallest thing that I would blow up on," he said.
He sought help from psychologists, and was admitted to mental health facilities multiple times. During a 7-week stay at the Veterans Hospital last Christmas, he found some relief. A dog trainer brought two Pit Bull Terriers to the hospital for canine therapy.
"I just had joy being with them and petting them," he said.
Dogs are often used to provide therapy, comfort and companionship for soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress and other issues. His psychologist recommended he get a dog, so he got Diesel when he was just an 8-week-old pup.
He turns to the dog when he is down or feels an anxiety attack coming on. He said playing with the dog and petting the dog comforts him, or just lying on the couch with his dog.
"It calms me down with him around," he said.
In July, a Belleville police officer came to his home and alerted him to the city ban on pit bulls. Ready was eventually issued a citation.
Zenger said 16 states refuse to let cities ban dogs simply because of their breeds.
Ready said Belleville has never enforced the ordinance before even though there are other violators.
"I've seen many dogs around here that are illegal. It seems like they targeted me because I have my dog out in the public," he said. "I run my dog."
Or he did. He said he is keeping Diesel mainly inside until the issue is resolved, which he said is a problem for the dog.
The case will go before a municipal judge this fall.
He cannot imagine Diesel not being in his life, saying the council's attitude irritates him.
"I should be able to keep my dog," he said.
If he doesn't win in court, then he said he will move away from the only town he's ever called home.
"I wouldn't have a choice because I'm not getting rid of my dog," he declared.
Click here for a link to the city of Belleville's website.
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