‘Bunny’ returns from exile; owner has day in court
"Bunny" the pit bull is back home in Baldwin City and her owner hopes this finally puts an end to a situation that started in August and resulted in the dog being impounded for about a month.
Municipal Court Judge Connie Sams dismissed the pit bull ban ordinance infraction against Sara Warmuskerken Thursday. "Bunny" returned home Friday after a month-long stay at the Douglas County Humane Society.
"'Bunny' came home last week," said Warmuskerken. "Everything was dismissed and she's home. She's a service dog, trained and certified."
Neighbors had called 911 in August when "Bunny" was barking at children who were riding bicycles in her yard, she said. Baldwin police responded and cited Warmuskerken for having a pit bull in the city limits.
She went to the next Baldwin City Council meeting and explained that "Bunny" is a service dog. The dog is trained to detect changes in Warmuskerken's medical condition. She declined to reveal what that condition is. She also provided information to the council for the reasons there shouldn't be a pit bull ban.
At the Oct. 17 council meeting, the person who called 911 and several others spoke to the council about the dog and the need for a pit bull ban. Mayor Gary Walbridge announced that the ordinance would be enforced and "Bunny" was impounded the next day.
In addition to the pit bull citation, police also cited the owners for having a vicious dog. Both citations were dismissed by Sams.
"They dismissed vicious dog," said Warmuskerken. "My dog was found to be a service animal and it's not an issue."
Her other service animal, a Rottweiler named "Side Check," was at last Thursday's court appearance and proved his worth, she said.
"He alerted me twice during the hearing so I was able to take my medicine," she said.
As for why she has two service animals, she said "Side Check" is 10 years old and is in declining health. This way she won't be without such services.
"I need another dog," she said.
As to why she's chosen a pit bull for a service animal, that was an easy choice, she said.
"There are a couple of Web sites that show that pit bulls make great service animals," she said.
Warmuskerken has four young children and has no fear of the dogs being around them. She also hasn't seen fear from others and cites many people stopping to pet them.
"I've been walking my dogs around town and everyone loves my dogs," she said.
But, she will be taking precautions.
"We're going to put up a big tall fence and put security measures in," she said, adding that there have been actions taken against the family as a result of the dogs.
She also disputes that she doesn't need a service animal, although she declined to say what her disability is.
"It's not like I have a made-up condition," she said. "I was diagnosed in 2001. It's not me trying to get a loop hole."
Police Chief Mike McKenna said his officers were only doing their job by enforcing the ordinances.
"Yes, 'Bunny' is back," said McKenna. "The court made its decision and that's all we can ask. We enforce the ordinances, it goes to court and they can decide."
He added that officers would continue to enforce the ordinances.
"Yes, as long as the city council has ordinances we will enforce them," he said.