An Alaska soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder spent the past three months working with an assistance dog that helped him through his symptoms of PTSD. On Thursday, however, Sgt. Jason Wideman handed Scotty the golden retriever back over to a local organization that claims Scotty didn't belong to Wideman.
At the Northway Mall on Thursday, Wideman handed Scotty over to Dodd Shay with Alaska Assistance Dogs, and said goodbye to the dog that he says changed his life.
Shay says Wideman recently left the organization, and their program requires the trainer to commit a full year of training the dog for PTSD.
"It's a tragedy. I mean I don't take any joy in taking the dog back. We know what these dogs do for vets and it's humongous," said Shay.
Shay says AAD sent Wideman multiple emails, informing him of AAD's policies on dog ownership. One of them states: "As with all service dogs, ownership remains with the agency for one year to be sure the dog is used as trained."
But Wideman and his wife Karla say their understanding of the situation is different. They claim that Scotty was given to Wideman because when the couple tried to pay for the dog, AAD would not accept their check. The Widemans point to a letter AAD wrote as proof. It says "We find it very disturbing that a serviceman with this kind of service history cannot receive funding from the military to help address his PTSD in such a natural way. We will not take his check..."
Wideman says what Scotty has done for him is incredible.
"It's been amazing and I'm going to take this experience and grow with it," said Wideman.
But soon after the emotional goodbye, Wideman received some good news. He learned that with the help of Sen. Mark Begich's office, he will soon have a new assistance dog that will be trained through Midnight Sun Service Dogs.
Contact Abby Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org