By Diana Rocco
NORTH WILDWOOD, N.J., (CBS) – A wounded war veteran says he was kicked off the Wildwood boardwalk and issued a summons. All over his service dog named Navigator.
“They said my dog wasn’t a seeing eye dog and that only seeing eye dogs are allowed on the boardwalk,” said veteran Jared Goering.
Goering and his wife are visiting Wildwood from Tampa. They were on their way to dinner Thursday night when they were stopped by police on the North Wildwood boardwalk. Both tried explaining that the dog, called Gator for short, is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which allows Gator to go everywhere Jared goes.
“The officer we talk to didn’t want to hear any of it, he just wanted us off the boardwalk,” said Goering.
“Then he went on to say, that ‘what do they do give every vet a dog now?’” said Sally Goering, Jared’s wife. “He has a vest, he has a leash, and that’s all that’s necessary. He does carry an ID, which he did give to the officer, and the officer gave it back and said ‘that doesn’t mean anything to me.'”
Jared retired from military service after 19 years due to injuries during multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has a traumatic brain injury from 2 IEDs and problems with mobility. Three-year-old Gator helps him walk and go up and down stairs.
“I respect cops, I respect that they do. I know they don’t an easy job, but my job for 20 years was to defend the country. I got shot at on a daily basis and then blown up. You know… yeah, it hurts,” he said.
Eyewitness News spoke with the Wildwood Police Chief who says he has looked into this matter and there is more to it, but declined further comment. The summons has been dismissed.
On Saturday, Wildwood Police said an internal affairs investigation was initiated the day of the incident. The police department says they also contacted America’s Vet Dogs regarding the reported incident. Police say training material and information was given to all members of the police department relating to identifying legitimate service dog teams.