Traveling cats, dogs and other animals in carriers aren’t an unusual sight at airports around the U.S. But when Lynn Jones, a baggage handler at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, saw a hunting dog with bloody paws and sores all over its body, she couldn’t bring herself to carry out business as usual. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Jones felt strongly that the animal was in no shape to fly and refused to load its carrier on the plane. After more than five years on the job, Jones says, she was fired then and there.
Editor’s Note, December 7, 2011: According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Airport Terminal Services has apologized for the incident and offered Jones her job back, including retroactive pay. Jones has not decided whether to accept.
Jones was employed by Airport Terminal Services, a contractor at the airport. According to Jones, her supervisor instructed her to put the dog on the plane because there was nothing wrong with its paperwork and its physical condition was irrelevant. But as a pet owner herself (she has three dogs, three cats and a bird), Jones felt she had to speak up. “Everyone who saw it, the TSA people, the Airport Police officers, the girls at the ticket counter, was concerned,” she told the Gazette-Journal. “The dog was so weak and torn up. It didn’t look like it could survive the flight.”
Thanks to Jones’s conviction, airport police reported the incident to a local animal services organization, and the dog was given medical care before being sent back to its owner (a hunter in Texas).
It’s been a tough year for traveling animals. In August, a cat named Jack made headlines when he escaped his carrier at JFK Airport. Although he was found two months later, he had developed a severe illness brought on by malnourishment and eventually had to be euthanized.
Do you think pets should be permitted to fly in airplane cargo? Speak your mind in the comments!
– written by Sarah Schlichter