UPDATE: On December 6, Airport Terminal Services President Sally A. Leible posted a statement on the company website saying she had offered Lynn Jones her job back, with full back pay. “We applaud Ms. Lynn Jones’ courage to report the unfavorable condition of the animal she encountered, and we encourage others to be as vigilant as she was,” Leible wrote. Jones has not yet accepted Leible’s offer.
When a baggage handler at Reno-Tahoe International Airport refused to load a starved and bleeding Pointer onto a plane, she was fired.
Lynn Jones, a contractor for Airport Terminal Services (ATS), told the Reno Gazette Journal she saw the hunting dog listlessly lying in a crate in the airport’s cargo area on November 15.
She noticed he was emaciated, his body was covered with sores, and his paws were raw and bleeding.
“The Transportation Safety Authority officers couldn’t even get the dog to stand up to be X-rayed,” Jones told the Reno Gazette Journal. “Everyone who saw it, the TSA people, the airport police officers, the girls at the ticket counter, was concerned. The dog was so weak and torn up. It didn’t look like it could survive the flight.”
Jones’ supervisor, who has not been identified, ordered her to load the Pointer on the plane since the dog’s paperwork was in order and his condition was “not her concern.” He threatened to fire her if she continued to complain.
But Jones, who shares her home with a menagerie of rescued animals including three dogs, three cats and a bird, refused. The local animal control was contacted and took custody of the Pointer. Jones said the officers were shocked by the dog’s condition.
Despite this, Jones was immediately terminated. “(My supervisor) kept yelling, ‘That’s it, you’re done, you are out of here, go home,’” Jones told the Reno Gazette Journal. “I left.”
She said when she called Airport Terminal Services, she was told she had “abandoned” her job. “I didn’t abandon anything; I was told to leave,” she said.
When she asked Washoe County Regional Animal Services for a copy of the incident report, she was told it was confidential due to Nevada’s new “Cooney’s Law,” which makes severe animal abuse a felony and does not allow officials to release incident reports or discuss the reports’ details.
According to an update published Saturday in the Reno Gazette Journal, the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office is examining the law’s secrecy clause to determine exactly what information can be released about abused animals.
Krys Bart, CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority and also a board member of the Nevada Humane Society, told the Reno Gazette Journal she’s frustrated over not being able to share the incident report or photos with the public.
“In all my years here, this is the first time I’m thoroughly disgusted over what I understand to be the situation this animal was put in,” she said.
Jones said that according to the shipping documents she saw at the airport, the Pointer is owned by a Texas hunter, who keeps the dog in a kennel and routinely ships him off to various hunting sites.
Airport officials told the Reno Gazette Journal that the dog was shipped back to Texas after being nursed back to health.
This afternoon, ATS posted a message on its website, saying the company is taking this matter “extremely seriously and commends this employee’s situational awareness and her desire to raise the concern on behalf of the canine involved and relieved to hear that the canine will fully recover.” It stated the company is currently “reviewing the actions of all employees involved to determine if the appropriate action was taken.”
Jones told the Associated Press that ATS finally contacted her today to hear her side of the story. She said she’d “really have to think about it” if her former employer offers to reinstate her.
Although Jones told the Reno Gazette Journal that losing her job has been a hardship, she does not regret her actions.
“I just couldn’t turn my back on that dog,” she said. “My supervisor said it wasn’t my concern, but animal abuse is everyone’s concern who sees it.”
Airport Terminal Services can be contacted via this online form.