An Army veteran of nineteen years whose vehicle was twice blown up by IEDS in Afghanistan claims that a police officer harassed and kicked him off the North Wildwood, New Jersey boardwalk because of his service dog. Jared Goering, a Tampa resident on vacation for the first time in years, served two tours in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. His service dog, "Gator," not only helps the disabled veteran cope with the physical toll of combat, but with the often neglected psychological toll as well.
"I also suffer from PTSD, severe anxiety, depression, and my dog plays a big part in my life. His main purpose is mobility but he also helps me with all my emotional problems from combat," he explained.
Goering's wife, Sarah, told NBC 40 that the officer "mockingly asked if all veterans get service dogs," then added that her husband's dog "is medically necessary" and that "the public [needs] to be aware that there are different types of disabilities and different types of service dogs."
North Wildwood Police initially said that while there are no charges pending, there are "other circumstances" surrounding the case. However, on Sunday a press release said that after the matter was brought to the officer's superior, it was quickly dropped. Moreover, according to the statement "an internal affairs investigation was initiated and the incident will be thoroughly investigated by the Internal Affairs supervisor."
Police Chief Matthew Gallagher said he met with representatives of America's Vet Dogs, who helped him "realize there is confusion and frustration among public officials attempting to identify assistance dog teams including guide dogs, service dogs, and military therapy dogs," and "provided training material and information, which was disseminated to all members of the police department relating to identifying legitimate service dog teams."
But Goering is still disappointed. "I expected to get more respect from him because of the jobs that we both have to do," he said.
Watch the entire NBC 40 story below.