My service dog Sophie and I were camping out on public land in Arizona. We were keeping to ourselves and, as a matter of fact, I've been working on this forum all day before this assault occurred. In fact, dealing with my PTSD was the reason I was in the desert in the first place. I spent the previous two years traveling with my dog in an attempt to put my complex PTSD into perspective. Being away from people and out on public land where the sound of silence dominates was the best environment I'd found. Being around people was hard for me, and I realized after a few awkward interactions that had become socially inept. Quite frankly, I just looked foolish. On the day I was assaulted by this federal officer, I had just left with Sophie for an evening hike. We happened upon this officer and three other people, which was rare in the desert where we usually were alone. I am an amputee and was carrying a water bottle and my T-shirt and Sophie, who is voice trained, walked next to me. Sophie's a Belgian Malinois, a one hundred pound dog who is often mistaken for a German Shepherd. But her breed is often used for military and police work. She's a beautiful dog and many strangers stop me regularly to tell me so, Most recently at my therapists office. In fact, Sophie has the kind of presence that almost makes me feel bad to keep her all to myself, because I know she's an angel who makes other people's lives better just by being there. Sophie's also a great icebreaker in this manner. People approach me to tell me something positive about her, and from there I can start a conversation with that person if I feel like it without also feeling suddenly in the spotlight because the attention is all on her. So when we met these people one of them turned out to be a federal officer from the Bureau of land management. He's basically a police officer on public land who, if he's in his right mind, could be an asset to keep people safe. But this guy was not such a person. He immediately approached me and belligerently demanded that Sophie be on a leash. As a one armed/disabled man in his 50s, I am well aware of my rights regarding Sophie. According to the Americans with disabilities act of 1990, I needn't have Sophie on a leash and cannot be made to do so unless my dog is unruly or a danger to others. She isn't. But this officer didn't see it that way, and one of the other people present was a girl who I believe was a love interest of this officer, who is half my age if he's a day. The other two people we met before and had a friendly interaction with them. The new Sophie was not a danger, and they knew me. But the younger officer felt the need to save face in front of this young girl, I believe. It was a Friday night, and I think the officer and the girl had plans for a date. My refusal to put Sophie on a leash – I don't even own a leash for her anymore, as I can't use it anyway – was a complication to their plans. The officers negative response, which never happens with Sophie who is so widely excepted by everyone everywhere, showed me right away I was in danger. Part of Sophie's job is to warn me of such dangers, and she did by pushing me in the opposite direction of this officer. The officer then claimed that he was going to write me a ticket for not having Sophie a release and I said to him "you can't do that either; that's also against the law." Again, I am very socially inept, and after living off grid for several weeks I hadn't showered or shaved for most of that time. I only cleaned myself with disposable, premoistened towels like the kind you buy in bulk at Costco. Young officer, I'm sure, must be used to seeing such people, as there are typically no facilities on public land, like running water and electricity. All of that must be generated by the camper, and it's scarcity leads campers to ration such comfort's. The officer turned to look at me and I realized I was facing someone who was going to hurt me. I also realized that I had not handled the situation well, given my inability to size up the situation properly. By that time, things escalated before I could stop them. Sophie's warning led me to realize I needed to get the hell out of there. My complex PTSD had been triggered, and I turned and ran away. The officer pursued me on foot, and I let him catch me. My only hand was occupied and my ability to run had long since dwindled to nothing. Over the course of the next few minutes, the officer dragged me through the rocky sand. My legs were bleeding and he was on top of me holding me down with all his body weight and bending my body in ways it hadn't bent in years. As I looked up, Sophie approached me to see if I was all right. As my seizure dog, she's trained to stand by me whenever she sees me on the ground to assure that I will be safe at a time when I'm unable to care for myself. As I said, she's a big dog who commands attention and is a visual deterrent to anyone who might wish to hurt me when I can't protect myself. But she's also noticeable to others who might help me, And Sophie has a built-in sense that allows her to determine good guys from bad guys. I've seen her in action, and no bad guys have ever approached her/us whenever she was on to them. But because she likes police officers and people like that who carries guns, this psychopathic federal officer fooled her at first. As Sophie approached, the officer pepper sprayed her in both eyes, leaving me alone and helpless. He handcuffed my only arm to the brush guard on the front of his truck. Sophie had disappeared and, as it turned out later, the woman with the night before took care of her, noting that she burned her hand on the chemicals Sophie had in her eyes. The officers police truck had it's flashing lights on, and I could smell the rubber of the tires. As a really helpless on the ground, I felt a weird sensation and thought I was having a seizure. After a few moments I realized that the officer had tasered me. He is a cruel person who was only out to hurt Sophie and I, And I guess to impress the girl who was present. When other officers arrived, he charged me with assaulting him. He realized that beating up a disabled man and hurting his service dog for standing up for his rights was a crime he had committed. His superior also was on the scene later, and their police report was a falsehood that described to me as a crazy lunatic who needed to be subdued. In claiming that I was a mentally ill person, the officer could claim that he was in fear of his safety and afraid he'd be hurt, etc. in much the same way that urban police officers recently shot and killed innocent, unarmed people. But it's bullshit. I spent a week in jail, not knowing where Sophie was or if she was OK. On the fifth day, I received a notice that Sophie was scheduled to be euthanized if I didn't pick her up from the animal control shelter where she was held. Of course I did anything and said anything I could just to get out of jail so I could pick her up and we'd be together again. But that notice was just a ploy, as all the officers agreed that I was the bad guy and they needed to cover the assaulting officers rear end for what he had done. When I went to pick up Sophie, I was so grateful to see she was alive and apparently in good health once again. I repeatedly thanked the staff at the shelter before leaving to pick up my camper from the scene of the crime. The report the officers filed also claimed that I went crazy and created a major disturbance and threatened the people at the animal shelter, yet another lie meant to undermine my credibility. When I arrived at my RV, I found that all of my things had been gone through by someone, probably the police. They could find nothing incriminating, as I am simply a camper minding my own business, not out doing drugs or committing other crimes. My medication, none of which I received while in jail, was untouched. But it was also proof that I regularly see a physician for my disability and, under no circumstances was I chemically dependent or for that matter A lunatic. This was obvious, and the police knew it. They needed to cover their tracks for what the officer – the real lunatic who had assaulted Sophie and I- had done to us. Even though I know had a guilty record of assault on a federal officer, Sophia and I were together again and that's all that mattered. We'd been together for 8 1/2 years when all this happened, and she is a part of my life I cannot live without. I receive excellent therapy where I now live, and have just begun EMDR with a second therapist. There's a lot I have to deal with and, Because I have my therapists as a safe place to go, my Trumatic experiences don't rule my life. I am not triggered by my environment, but I do recognize some scary feelings inside every time I hear or see police cars. Helicopters also figure into this, as part of my PTSD involves a serious bicycle accident with a car in which I was medevac'd to the hospital where I nearly died. That trauma was a big part of why I was in the desert in the first place. The assault by that federal officer was a secondary trauma that exacerbated that bicycle accident, which exacerbated a lifetime of complex PTSD. Again, I am 51 years old, and my complex PTSD has been the measure of who I am throughout most of my life, since my teenage years. Despite the heavy weight I'm caring, I'm grateful for the excellent help I am now getting. Even though this federal crime I was forced to plead guilty to means I have a probation officer for the next six months, I am happy that Sophie and I are still together. If/when something happens to her, if she were to pass away because of a snakebite or any other reason (we live near the mountains and spend a lot of time hiking the trails where there are natural predators like snakes) I don't know what I'll do. But I'll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. My only real fear is that she will be taken away from me once again and that I will be put in jail for no other reason than "being crazy." Keep in mind that the only reason this happened was because Sophie wasn't on a leash and I spoke up for my right to not have to do it and, anyway, it wasn't physically possible for me to hold the leash so what I was being told to do was both unsafe and unreasonable. It's what I have to live with now and, sadly, I know things could have been worse and are worse for many people who are innocent, like me. It's a testament to our society's sick side and, as an amputee with a visible and obvious disability, I understand what it's like to be an easy mark for an opportunistic psychopath. In this case, there was no escaping it because I'd run into someone who is nothing more than a thug with a badge. I've shared this story on this for him once before and, because of memory problems associated with my head injury I'd forgotten until just now. One response I've gotten from another reader w ho recently became a service dog handler like me responded by telling me that I needed to choose my battles more carefully and that having an ID card for my dog was wrong because it meant that other dog handlers would be expected to have an ID card as well. If you are one such reader, please do not make any remarks that chastise me for how I handled things. I used my best judgment at the time and should not be faulted for it. Also, I have been working long enough with my service dog to know what is best for our situation. Sophie's stature, she's a big dog, Despite her kind and gentle and approachable appearance could still scare people at first. The ID card I always wear, plus my announcement that she's a service dog immediately puts people at ease, and that's important to me. I usually have Sophie wear her bright red vest that identifies her as a Medical Alert Dog, as the badge on it says. So please don't say what I should or shouldn't do as her handler. I know several other service dog handlers and we all have slightly different methods of working with our dogs. We also respect each other for it and would never judge each other-or anyone- because of it. As disabled people, we know we're a minority in our world and must stick together for all reasons. Sophie and I wouldn't have been brutalized in the desert, for instance, had we not been traveling alone. Now that we've made a home for ourselves, I'm unlikely to take Sophie anywhere that might put her in danger again. I may have been bloodied in the scuffle with the officer but Sophie, who didn't know what was happening to her, was blinded and in agony by the pepper spray, and hurt much worse than I. We won't travel much from now on and, if/when we do, we'll probably go back to Mexico where we visited in January and live out our days on the beach. I have BPD, Borderline personality disorder, and have no friends or family ties any longer. Socially, my world is tiny. But I do have acquaintances in Mexico that can help Sophie and I resettle quite happily there. Once my therapy progresses to the point where I am comfortable with my resolution of the past I may well do so. Anything can happen between now and then to make me want to revise my plans but, as long as Sophie's by my side, I'll feel alive! PS: I want to change my statement about not disagreeing with my viewpoint on service dog handling: If your methods differ from the ways I handle my dog, Sophie then, by all means please share what you've found that works for you. It's really a great way to learn from each other, and I'd never want to thwart that. Finally, I appreciate your reading my lengthy post, or even just parts of it. I am a writer/editor by trade and noticed a few minor errors. Thanks for your understanding in getting past them.