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Disabled vet asks for public support, says airline workers kicked his service dog

Dogart_thumb By Ellen | July 20, 2012 | Comments (254)

In a shocking incident, a disabled military veteran says United Airlines employees kicked his service dog not once but twice, while at the airport. One employee also insulted him.

Jim Staneck, Sarge and his wife

Jim Stanek is the founder of Paws and Stripes, which pairs disabled vets with service dogs. Jim has served three combat tours in Iraq and has PTSD and a brain injury. 

The pair were dealing with canceled flights and delays last weekend. After 48 hours of waiting at Dulles Airport in Washington, he said Sarge, his service dog, was kicked once at the ticket counter and then once again on a shuttle. 

When he was on the shuttle the employee "kicked her [Sarge] so hard on the rib cage, that she flew into my lap," Jim recounted to KOAT 7 News. "He said he was afraid of dogs." 

Jim said the stress was overwhelming and asked a customer service representative for help because he had trouble reading a reservation email.

"He said, 'Just read it' and I said, 'Sir I can't read it,' and he said, 'What are you retarded?'" Jim recalls. "Prior to this I told him I have a brain injury and PTSD, I'm a disabled vet, this is my second night here; I need help."

Jim and Sarge eventually sought refuge in a corner of the airport. "Honestly I thought I was done. I thought I would have to get another training dog," Jim said. Sarge was shaking and terrified from the experience and says Sarge will be getting evaluated to see if she can keep working.

Finally, after Jim and Sarge's long ordeal, two helpful United Airlines employees witnessed Jim's struggles and came to his aid. They arranged for him to be booked onto another airline, expediting his return home. 

Jim now says he wants to help raise awareness of the issue. He's not out for a boycott of the airline but doesn't want other disabled veterans, and individuals with service dogs to have a similar experience. He would like to see employees of the airline better educated on disabilities and service dogs. He would also like people to share his story to help make positive changes for service dogs and disabled veterans. Jim isn't alone, many others recognize that service dogs deserve better.

Below is a YouTube video of his full recount of the event. Cell phone footage of Sarge at the airport after being kicked can be seen at 15:42. 

 

And here is a short video explaining more about what Paws and Stripes does.

 


Update July 22, 2012: According to Reduced Mobility Right, the U.S. Department of Transportation has opened an investigation into the incident, with the cooperation of the airline.

"We are reaching out to the customer directly to discuss the events that he described," a spokesperson for United told Reduced Mobility Rights on July 21.

Lindsey Stanek, CEO and Co-Founder of Paws and Stripes issued a statement on Sunday, saying that she received confirmation that the DoT is conducting an investigation into Jim Stanek's complaint against United Airlines.

"United Airlines has contacted us, asking what happened and informing us that they have 30 days to look into it," Lindsey Stanek confirmed on Sunday.

Jim and Sarge are said to be recovering from their ordeal. "Jim is trying to bounce back, but the trip has made a noticeable effect on him," Lindsey Stanek said. "Sarge has been taken off duty to rest, and she is still very jumpy."

 


Related articles:

Service dogs derve better

Disabled vet asks for public support, says airline workers kicked his service dog

Hooters denies access to service animals

Service dogs and their owners protected by new Pennsylvania law

 



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Comments on this Article

OK, this is one of the most ridiclous things I have heard in a while. And these United Airline employees still have their jobs? First of all if anyone ever kicked one of my dogs or any dog and I witness it, I guess I will be going to jail. There is NO EXCUSE for this kind of behavior. I would sue United Airlines immediately. I know I will never fly with them again after reading this story. Everyday that I hear something like this I think to myself, can things get any worse in this world? I would love to know the names of both employees that kicked Sarge and also names of employees that helped him. I have NO TOLERANCE for any kind of animal abuse. And Jim certainly deserves to be treated and respected not only as military vet but as a person. I can assure that I will never fly with United Airlines again.
How very sad that this happened. Our dogs are our family and I'm sorry but if someone would have kicked my dog, I would have punched them right there!
Kick my dog, or a dog in front of me period....I will WILLING take myself to jail after I beat the living hell out of the person who lays their hand on any animal in a negative manner in front of me! Point blank!
I train dogs for "Mutts With A Mission." A company out of Virginia but I am in Maine. The best training is experience. So I bring Tigg, the dog that I am training every were that I go. Ruby Tuesday was very nasty to me not allowing me into their restaurant with Tigg. Also, numerous times my school (University of Maine at Augusta) has told me that I can NOT bring her to the school, EVEN AFTER I HAVE READ THEM THE "White Cane Law!" However, I still bring her to the school even if they want to fight with me. I know several Vets with service dogs as well, I've been told several ridiculous stories also about how they are treated. It makes me so angry. But this story tops what I have experienced and been told.
If someone would kick my dog, I would hit him right back. He had no rights to even touch your dog, he is a service dogs. That employee was a real idiot.
If someone would kick my dog, I would hit him right back. He had no rights to even touch your dog, he is a service dogs. That employee was a real idiot.
well I nd to get back to rescuing again! no time for chit chat! later!
C U can't have an opinion these days!
Nobody around thought of kicking the offender's balls?? And to Mark: flight attendants are in the plane to save your as not kiss it. If you're afraid of flying try other methods, therapy, courses, etc, because NOBODY, not even bar tenders, should deal with drunks, much less violent ones.
As someone who plans on opening an animal rescue after I am done with college, this totally enrages me. I can't understand why someone would hurt an animal who isn't a threat. This is dispicable. I hope these asses are fired and fined A LOT of money. There is NO excuse for this.
Talk is cheap. UA should penalize the abusers where it hurts, their employment/pocket.
this does not make sense!!! why will you hurt a service dog???
It's obvious that the employee who kicked Sarge is the "retarded one". I mean seriously... have you never encountered a service dog before? Service dogs are a part of society... if you can't deal with that, then do the world a favor and stay home!
This is a disgrace they should dismiss those who abused the dog and refused to help when asked to read for Mr Stanek ..Here is a man who has been injured serving his country and this is what he gets no respect or care from airport employees ..Mr Stanek I wish you well for the future and hope sarge is now recovered ..We are all proud of our military be they american or british god bless you ..SUE THE AIRLINE AND EMPLOYEES YOU COULD ALWAYS DONATE ANY MONEY YOU MAY GET TO YOUR WONDERFUL ORGANISATION .
Thank you for your service Mr. Stanek. May you and Sarge never have to go through such a terrible ordeal ever again. I will never fly on United Airlines forthe way they treated you and Sarge. God Bless you and Sarge
I am so sorry for your experience. My prayers are with both you and Sarge. Thank you so much for your service and all you have done for us <3
Jim. Hang in there.. This does not have to ruin you or your dog. Been there done that. Had my assistance dog kicked, screamed at and slapped at by a women who hated me. She was under the illusion I was in the back pocket of the apartment house I lived in and was watching her and trying to get her busted for dealing drugs. The final blow was when she attacked me and kicked My little buddy. I took her to court.. but this did not stop the people she sent to my door to harass and try to scare my SDog. He made it out well. Keep your dog socialized around as many people as possible. socialize her in EVERY possible situation. From children crying to people who are arguing in public if you can handle it. She does not need to learn to fear. I have been through this. I do understand.. I am also a former protection dog trainer.. And have been training service dogs for a long time now. But no longer for other people due to my disability becoming more intense over time. I still have a dog.. though he is not quite a service dog yet. still working on it. When she experiences something like this.. get her doing something that is positive for her. Don't let her go through this and not do anything except console her.. You are then only building on her fears. Check out Cesar Milans book about working with dogs and dog psychology and how we can make or break our dogs when they have been through tramatic instances. So if she starts to show fear.. do something with her that you know is positive and she can win at. Praise her for it. she will learn to get through things like these experiences better than you will. I learned so much about life through my dog. Read Cesar Millans books. He is a great dog behaviorist. And he teaches a lot about our own actions in his books. I wish you the best. Hang in there, keep her socialized.
Omg, I wish I'd have been there with them. I would be in jail right now. UGH! I hope they still keep the doggy even if she can't serve anymore :( :( I don't fly or they'd be boycotted from me until those 2 are fired
Utterly disgusted at the way some people act. I'm glad I didn't witness this because the people that did it would be apologizing with a quickness or pulling my foot out of their a**es. How despicable do you have to be to make fun of a disabled person that gave everything for your freedom and to kick a dog who's only purpose in life is to help someone else and make their life liveable. They will get there's. Believe that! God bless our service men and women and the animals that bless their lives.
This is Ridiculous!. I don't understand why did they kicked sarge?. Did sarge bite them?. Did sarge try to attack them?. I bet No right?. And why treat the serviceman like this?. Why say him retarded?. I really hope the airlines will do something about it.
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