On July 4th I was driving alone with my service dog of almost 8 years of age, Dunkin’, in the rear seat towards the middle. I was pulled over on I-17 after being tailed for about one mile. The cop was very close to the rental car I was driving which was a gray Toyota corolla. The vehicle was due back on Sunday and I had planned on returning it, then utilizing the airport shuttle to catch my early flight back to New York’s La Guardia airport with Dunkin as my travel companion.
I pulled over to a safe spot on the shoulder of the road and the cop opened the door and drew out a shot gun. He actually AIMED it at me. I could see his eye aiming and it made no sense. I was shouted at and told to keep my hands where he can see them. This seemed very strange and not at all common for being pulled over. I could hear shot gun cocked and I realized that something was not right. I obeyed his shouts to keep my hands up and I allowed Dunkin to continue sleeping in order to keep us both calm. I was ordered to get out of the car, walk backwards without looking, and was very confused… I was going further and further away from Dunkin’.
I was shouted at to kneel, yelled at and then immediately cuffed and put in the back seat of a cop car. I immediately told him that my service animal is in the back of the car and to please be careful with him as he is license in NY state and is official for my Multiple Sclerosis. The car was overwhelmingly hot and my MS symptoms began as I tried breathing for fresh air. It was getting hotter and now he was drawing a weapon to the vehicle. I was very frightened that they would kill Dunkin’ as they looked like they would do so with the weapons drawn so intently.
The cop opened the rental car door which was nearest the I-17 traffic. Dunkin’ rested soundly on that side of the vehicle. When the door was opened, the cop let him get out of the car onto oncoming traffic. Dunkin’ got out of the vehicle confused. He ran into oncoming traffic, looking for me. His mission is to look for me, wherever I may be. As cars swerved and missed him… I screamed. I prayed and screamed at the top of my lungs for my companion’s safety. The cop S.D Soto (who was the one who aimed at me through his shotgun, also cuffed me) walked to the front of the car passenger area. He pulled out Dunkin’s fluorescent orange service vest and read the insert in his pocket which states that he is a service animal and he is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. S.D Soto Read the facts, read my rental agreement (which was located on the passenger seat area) and continued to ignore my pleas for help and air conditioning.
At this point a red headed cop was on the scene too, along with a thicker sized blonde-red headed cop. I will never forget their faces. One wore shades, the other had glasses and piercing blue eyes. They completely ignored my existence and did not check on me. Someone chased Dunkin’ and I told them that he would ONLY come to me. I begged and pleaded to allow them to let me call for him. S.D Soto told me to shut up and I was annoying him. He said that he would gag me next, if I said another word and did not cooperate.