During an unexpected three-day layover at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C., Jim Stanek, disabled veteran and the cofounder of Paws and Stripes, says he and his service dog were abused by United Airlines staff.
Stanek posted a video on YouTube detailing the abuses by United Airlines, saying his ordeal began at the ticket desk on July 15. As some United employees passed him, he said one became “startled” by his service dog, Sarge, and kicked her. Stanek let the offense go and preceded to board his flight, but due to technical problems with the plane, he and Sarge had to spend the night in a hotel.
The next morning, when Stanek and Sarge were sitting in a terminal shuttle to get to their new flight, another United staff member became startled by Sarge and kicked her.
“(They) kicked her so hard on the right side of her ribs that she literally jumped up into my lap,” Stanek says in the video. “This was the second time that she had been kicked. I was so angry, so confused on why she would be kicked. Sarge doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body.”
Stanek was angry that his service dog had been kicked a second time, but once again, he let the incident go and waited for his flight. When the flight was canceled, Stanek phoned United customer service, which booked him on a new flight and told him to go to the counter for hotel and food vouchers.
Due to Stanek’s post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), he had to stand against the wall while waiting. When it was finally his turn, the United employee told him the flight was rescheduled, not canceled, and asked Stanek if he was “retarded.”
“I completely lost all composure,” Stanek said. “After my dog being kicked twice, being stuck in the airport yet again for a second night – I was done and there was nobody helping me.”
After two United attendants finally helped get Stanek and Sarge on a American Airlines flight home, Sarge, who usually flies very calmly was, “shaking like a leaf.”
“It’s as if she has PTSD from the situation, and I can’t blame her for being high strung after the situation we went through,” Stanek said.
According to the blog Reduced Mobility Right, the U.S. Department of Transportation has opened an investigation into the incident, with the cooperation of the airline.
This is not the first time United Airlines has been in hot water for its treatment towards dogs. Earlier this year, it outraged dog owners with its “dangerous breeds” ban that it later dropped, making pets fly as cargo and being the first airline to ban dogs in the cabins on flights to Mexico.