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911 call released of person complaining about homeless veteran and service dog in Gastonia

WBTV first reported on this story last week after Joshua Rohrer, a United States Army veteran, was separated from his service dog after his arrest in Gastonia.
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - Officials have released the 911 call a person made to complain about a homeless veteran and his service dog in Gastonia.

WBTV first reported on this story last week after Joshua Rohrer, a United States Army veteran, was separated from his service dog after his arrest in Gastonia.

Rohrer served in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2008 and completed one tour overseas. He now has PTSD and is without a home. He spent most of his days at the intersection of Cox Road and Gastonia Mall Drive with his best friend and service dog Sunshine, before they were separated last week.

Rohrer’s friend Dave Dowell was keeping Sunshine at his home in Shelby while Rohrer was in jail on the night of Wednesday, Oct. 13. Dowell says Sunshine slipped her leash and ran away Thursday morning.

Unfortunately, Sunshine was found dead a few days later, according to the creator of a GoFundMe for Rohrer.

Rohrer has been living in a camp near the shopping center at the intersection of Cox Road and Gastonia Mall Drive for the last five months.

“She’s definitely not a pet. Sunshine Ray is a highly trained service animal that is task trained to perform duties toward my disabilities, so She is crucial to my ability to be able to function in society,” Rohrer said.

On Monday, Gaston County Police released a 911 call of a person complaining about the homeless veteran “using” a dog to get money.

The dispatcher asked the caller how they were “using the dog to get money”.

“That’s putting two and two together. They’re using this dog to make people feel sorry for them to give them money,” the caller responded.

Gastonia Police arrested Rohrer on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at the intersection charging him with resisting an officer, soliciting from the highway, and begging for money.

Rohrer says he wasn’t begging people for food or money. He says he never does, and only walks down the intersection smiling, waving, and talking with people as they pass by.

“I fought for my country, I fought for everybody’s freedom, and I feel like a freedom we should have is being able to walk where we please as long as it’s not private property, no trespassing, and if we want to stand on a public sidewalk or shoulder then we should be able to. If we want to smile and wave at people we have the freedom to do that,” Rohrer said.

Gastonia Police tased Sunshine during the arrest.

“The dog was tased and the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident are under review to determine if officers followed established policies and procedures,” a spokesperson from the department said.

“[I was] slammed around and treated like less than trash,” Rohrer says he was slammed on a police car while being arrested as officers asked for his ID card.

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