A 19-year Army veteran was given a summons and told to leave the ocean-side boardwalk in North Wildwood, N.J., Thursday, after a police officer refused to accept the presence of the veteran's service dog. Jared Goering says it was the first vacation for him and his wife, Sally, in years.
"Before I got my dog, I didn't want to do nothing," the veteran tells ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa, Fla., where he lives. "I didn't want to go with my wife anywhere. I didn't like crowds. Then I got my dog and eventually I was able to go out and do that stuff."
Goering, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, left the Army in 2009 after enduring two IED explosions in 36 hours. The effects of those events are still with him, but he says his service dog, a Labrador retriever named Navigator, has helped him adapt.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the dog is allowed to accompany Goering wherever he goes. But it seems the police officer in New Jersey was confused about the law.
After being questioned by the officer, Jared and Sally Goering pointed out the dog's vest, which is marked with an insignia identifying him as a service dog. But they say the officer stated that the rules on such animals only apply to guide dogs who help the blind.
"He went on to say that, 'What do they do? Give every vet a dog now?'" Sally Goering says in a report on the news site NJ.com.
The summons issued on the boardwalk has been filed for dismissal, according to a statement by the North Wildwood police department, which says it is investigating the matter. The officer in question will be reprimanded if necessary, the agency said Sunday, in a report by the Cape May County Herald.
"We've always proudly supported military veterans," chief of police Matthew Gallagher tells Florida's WFTS.
Gallagher also said he and one of his officers had also gotten in touch with the organization America's Vet Dogs, to discuss how to identify guide dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs.
"I respect cops, I respect what they do. I know they don't have an easy job," Goering tells NJ.com. "But my job for 20 years was to defend the country. I got shot at on a daily basis, I've been blown up. You know... yeah, it hurts."