A North Wildwood, New Jersey Police Officer issued Jared Goering a citation and kicked him and his wife off of a boardwalk for having his service dog.
Jared served a tour in Iraq, 2 in Afghanistan, and spent 19 years as an active member of the Army. Jared said, “I served from 1993 to 2012.” He said he couldn’t sleep Thursday night because he felt so disrespected by a North Wildwood police officer.
Goering said, “Just like any veteran with disabilities with a service dog, to come back and be harassed and shown no respect, it upset me – it really bothered me. I was up most of the night thinking about it.”
According to NBC 40:
“He mockingly asked if all veterans get service dogs,” said Jared’s wife, Sally Goering, “his dog is medically necessary and he is a service dog.”
In 2009, Jared was serving in Afghanistan when his vehicle was blown up by IEDs, twice, within 36 hours. Now, Jared uses his 3-year-old service dog, Gator, short for Navigator, to help him walk, and to get up and down stairs.
Jared explained, “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.”
Jared and his wife Sally say the incident occurred on the 26th street North Wildwood boardwalk. The Goering family said, even after showing the officer the dog’s service identification card, he still issued them a summons and kicked them off the boardwalk.
Sally said, “We want the public to be aware that there are different types of disabilities and different types of service dogs – and police officers need to be educated about this.”
North Wildwood police officials say there are no pending charges, but that there are other circumstances surrounding the case.
The mayor of North Wildwood says they will issue a formal apology, if appropriate, pending the outcome of the investigation.
So the mayor says he will issue a formal apology, apologize for an officer that basically broke the law! Seems someone needs to read up on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Because under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of any facility where the public is normally allowed to go.
For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.
- When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
- A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
So it seems to me the officer of the law, broke the law! He is allowed to ask if the animal is a service dog, which he did, but then he mocked the Veteran and still issued a citation after he was shown the dog’s ID. And he still forced them to leave the boardwalk!
Here is the video interview from NBC40:
The police department still says it is investigating the matter, but from what I am seeing the officer is at fault and he should be the one apologizing to the Veteran. I believe we will send the mayor an email inquiry as to why the officer is not the one making an apology.
Here is the contact info for City Hall, if you decide to make contact, keep it polite and professional.
901 Atlantic Avenue
P.O. Box 499
North Wildwood, New Jersey 08260
Mayor William Hefney
We will keep you updated on this story as we find out more.