Service pit bull helps owner avoid seizures

Published: Sunday, March 18 2012 9:42 p.m. MDT

Leavitt has been employed for two years at EnableUtah. She also does massage therapy and is employed at Bright Blessings, working on Saturdays and by appointment. Nikki stands by and watches her work.

With the help of the dog, Leavitt leads a pretty normal life, except for the need to make sure someone else is home when she takes a shower or bath.

"If I slip and fall in the shower, she's not going to be able to pull me out," Leavitt said of her dog.

Leavitt is grateful to be married to Troy Leavitt, who can provide her with the support her dog can't.

But Leavitt worries that things could change her ability to rely on the dog.

Last spring, the Ogden City Council considered an ordinance that would require pit bull owners to mark their dogs as dangerous and make them significantly increase their homeowners insurance coverage.

It's a measure already approved in other parts of the country, Canada and Singapore, because pit bulls often have been at the center of violent incidents between dogs and people.

The dogs have sometimes been trained for aggressive behavior and bred for dog fighting and for the protection of drug trafficking operations.

But those statistics don't apply to Nikki.

That's why Leavitt took her dog to a City Council meeting last spring to argue against the proposed ordinance.

"The council tried to kick me out until I showed them the service dog card," she said.

Leavitt said she feared if Ogden passed the ordinance, South Ogden would too.

"I couldn't have her as a service dog if I had to mark her as dangerous," she said.

Leavitt said a pit bull is the perfect dog to help her, because they are sturdier than other animals.

"Their bone structure is thicker," she said. "If I seize and fall on her, I won't hurt her."

But she said this type of dog also has the heart for the job.

"Pit bulls bond to you better than other breeds."

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