N.J. police kick disabled vet off boardwalk for walking with service dog

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, August 12, 2013

A wounded U.S. war veteran from Florida visiting the Jersey shore last week was kicked off the boardwalk by police for having his government-approved service dog with him.

Jared Goering, a 19-year Army veteran from Tampa, was walking with his wife Sally on the famed Wildwood, N.J. boardwalk en route to dinner when a police officer issued him a summons for having his service dog Navigator at his side. According to the police officer, only registered seeing-eye dogs are allowed on the boardwalk in Wildwood.

“They said that my dog wasn’t a seeing-eye dog and that only seeing-eye dogs are allowed on the boardwalk,” Goering told CBS Philadelphia

Goering, who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was serving in Afghanistan when his vehicle was blown up twice in a 36-hour period by IEDs. As a result, he has mobility and emotional issues that “Gator” helps him cope with, including walking and going up and down stairs.

The couple attempted to explain to the police officers that Gator, as he’s more commonly referred to, was an official service dog who even wears a special vest and leash to signify his role as a service dog. Service dogs are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Goering also carries a government-issued ID with him certifying that Gator was a registered service dog, which he did show the officer.

“Then he [the officer] went on to say that, ‘what do they do give every vet a dog now?’ He [the dog] has a vest on him, 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,’” Sally Goering told CBS Philadelphia. 

“I respect cops, I respect what they do,” Jared added. “I know they don’t have 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.”

According to the local NBC station, the North Wildwood police officials claim that there are no pending charges against Goering, but that there are other circumstances surrounding the case. The New York Daily News also reported that the North Wildwood chief of police said the officer would be reprimanded “if the investigation deems such action necessary,” and that the city’s mayor would issue a formal apology to the Goerings if any wrongdoing in the situation was uncovered.

Wildwood, N.J. made headlines earlier this year when it banned people from wearing “baggy pants” while walking on the world-famous boardwalk.

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