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Veteran moving back to Ind. finds dog may not be welcome

BENTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – An Army veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder wants to move back to Indiana, but he’s finding his pit bull might not be welcome.

Army veteran Wayne Tibbett is stationed at Fort Drum in New York, but hopes to move his family back to Benton County this summer. However, the process hasn’t been an easy one.

“We currently have a 2-year-old American pit bull terrier named Zorro who will be a registered emotional service animal by the time we come home, and we’re just running into a lot of the town ordinances being against what is known as aggressive breeds,” Tibbett said.

Tibbett got Zorro from a shelter last year to help with his PTSD stemming from his 2009 deployment.

“He is the best dog for our situation, and we wanted him to help me cope with PTSD and anxiety,” Tibbett said. “And he’s done more than that since we’ve had him.”

An emotional service animal doesn’t have to undergo training like a registered service animal and is not recognized by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Zorro isn’t a registered emotional support dog yet, but Tibbett said he is working with his doctor to get the paperwork he needs to register him.

In his attempt to move back to Indiana, Tibbett found out the towns of Fowler and Oxford have ordinances against pit bulls. He said he reached out to the town of Fowler about changing the town’s ordinance.

“They had me write a memo to go before the board and at the end of the board, they didn’t think there was a need to change their ordinance,” Tibbett said.

Oxford’s ordinance prohibits pit bulls and pit bull mixes in town limits. Violating the ordinance could result in a $100 fine per day.

However, Oxford town council president Tina Coffman said the council is willing to hear the family’s case once they have the proper paperwork.

“I have an upcoming appointment with my doctor, and that’s when I’m going to go over the situation with him, work on getting my note. So I can send it to my mother-in-law so she can go ahead go before the board on my behalf and present our case. And hopefully, everything will be settled so we can move home,” Tibbett said.