Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ARC Bans Pit Bull, Owner Calls It Service Dog

Sannase Cary and Sebastian

A woman and the animal she calls her service dog were kicked off of the American River College campus over fears that the dog, a pit bull, is a threat to students.

Pit bull Sebastian is Vannase Cary's constant companion, and provides both protection and a half-hour warning before she suffers an epileptic seizure. Vannase loves him, but teachers and staff at American River College don't feel the same way.

"He's reactive," said ARC counselor Jennifer Scalzi. "He's been aggressive with other dogs."

Vannase says she's heartbroken that Sebastian was banned from campus, "even though he's been certified through the county as a service animal," she said.

However, campus counselors say they weren't able to find any certification for Sebastian. CBS13 contacted Sacramento County officials, who said there's no county agency that regulates service dogs.

"There is no group that will certify a bully breed," Vannase said, but pointed out the pit bull's animal tag and regulatory number.

The tag only means that Sebastian is a licensed dog in the county -- he's never even had any training as a service dog.

"There's always the possibility of getting her a real, certified service dog she can bring on campus," Scalzi said.

Until then, Vannase has a choice: class or Sebastian.

"I have to pick my dog, because he's given me my life back," she said.

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