Daniel Wright, a United States veteran, who served four tours of duty over 11 years, and received the Purple Heart medal, was recently denied a ride on a New Jersey public transit bus because of his service dog, Tank, who happens to be a pit bull.
The veteran’s numerous tours of duty with both the Marines and the Army has left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as no use in his left arm after having had nine surgeries on it. For these reasons, Wright says his service dog, Tank, is a necessity — “actually, he’s a daily need,” he said.
“There were times I couldn’t even sleep with my wife because I was acting out in my sleep. That’s actually why I have Tank. He wakes me up during night terrors, finding my medicine, he can go get my medicine.”
Wright said he’s never had a taking a ride with Tank on public transit until this week, when a New Jersey bus transit driver all but slammed the bus door in his face once he saw the veteran’s dog. Wright showed the driver Tank’s vest and collar, which clearly say U.S. Army Service Dog on them, but it didn’t make a difference.
“I put my hand out, and people were getting on… Then when I went to get on, [the driver] slammed the door… And I’m like, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ He’s like, ‘You can’t bring dogs on the bus.’ I said it’s my service dog, he’s like ‘I don’t care.’ “
Wright believes the reason he and Tank were denied a ride on the bus is because Tank is a pit bull. He says most people don’t believe the misunderstood breed can be service animals, and that only retrievers can serve in that role. “They think those are the only dogs that can be service dogs,” he says, “[but] he’s a good dog,” he said of Tank.
“I just need awareness brought that there’s a lot of veterans out here with service animals,” he said. “They don’t have to be blind or deaf to have a service animal.”
Wright has filed a formal complaint for being denied a ride with NJ Transit, who’ve already issued an apology to the army veteran, saying the bus driver in question would be disciplined.
“Service animals are permitted on board all of our modes: bus, rail, light rail, and Access Link, and we take our responsibility to comply with the Americans with Disabilities act very seriously.”
Despite being denied a ride on the first bus, the U.S. veteran was picked up soon after by another bus, and after showing the driver his military ID, was allowed to board the bus with Tank.
[Image Credit: Daily Caller]