"It didn't start out well," said David Long, describing Monday, when he and his service dog, Harry, went to a Circle K on Two Notch Road.
Long was looking for a cup of coffee but found a fight.
"The clerk noticed Harry, didn't see his vest, and said, 'You're going to have to take your dog outside,'" said Long. "I said, 'He is a certified service dog, it's legal for him to be in here, so that's the way it's gonna' be,' and she didn't want to hear it. She said 'Obviously you're not blind, so he needs to wait outside.'"
Long said he continued to try to explain. The clerk called her manager and the cops were called.
"One deputy went in to talk to the lady, the other sat with me and told me unfortunately they have to deal with this all the time," said Long.
The clerk told WIS reporter Taylor Kearns she didn't know Harry was a service dog before referring him to her district manager who then referred Kearns to corporate human resources.
Long admits he got a little worked up, but was able to keep from completely losing his cool because of his PTSD training and because Harry was at his side."
"He's a comfort for me," said Long. "He can sense the nervousness. He has a calming effect."
Long is still battling the demons bred from a long military career. He was on search and recovery at the Pentagon after 9/11.
"We had to mark the rooms where we found the bodies," he said.
Then he was nearly killed in Iraq by a mortar blast. Two men close by weren't as lucky.
"The recovery has just been ever since," he said.
Today, being in public is a constant, nervous struggle, made worse by people who don't know how much veterans like Long need companions like Harry.
"It was a minor setback for me," said Long. "But fortunately I have medications, I have Harry to help me out. I think this is just the beginning."
It's the beginning of a campaign of awareness. Long said he hopes in the least, this story will be educational and help prevent conflicts like this in the future.
WIS has not heard back from Circle K. Long said he's filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and is exploring legal action.
Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.
1115 Mt. Auburn Road
Public File Contact: