The cops arrived at about 6 a.m. in the morning, waking up Felix Conde's sleeping sons. Seven officers forcibly entered the home and peeked into bathrooms and closets, searching for a single dog named Lucky.
He wasn't there. A week earlier, the 3-year-old pet was moved to an animal trainer's house in Hollywood. Conde, an Aventura resident, would go visit Lucky on weekends. Man and dog were forced to separate due to a 1989 ordinance banning pit bull ownership within Miami-Dade that makes no exception for service animals.
Conde, who works as a security guard, qualifies as a disabled person under the Americans With Disabilities Act. He suffers from shortness of breath and the risk of collapsing. Lucky was trained to bring him a reviving medicine if he ever passed out, according to a complaint filed against the county on Tuesday.
In the process of taking Lucky, the county also managed to slap Conde with about $10,000 in fines. His wife had to take out a second job to pay for it all.
The case has become a cause for the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation. Dahlia Canes, the group's director, has two pitbulls herself. "The problem is not with the dog, the problem is with what's on the other end of the leash," she says.
Conde needs his service animal more than ever. In July, Conde got into a motorcycle accident on the way to visit his dog in Hollywood. He suffered from two collapsed lungs, broken arms, facial fractures and various head injuries. He was also put into a medically induced coma.
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Conde's now in physical therapy learning to walk and talk again, according to Canes.
"His children and his wife have suffered like you wouldn't even imagine," she says. "This ban should have never been put in place in the first place. It doesn't work, it's depriving good responsible owners of their dogs."
Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.