Target: United Airlines
Goal: Punish the customer service representative who kicked a service dog and harassed her disabled owner, and ensure that such an incident is never repeated.
For war veterans and others who have undergone traumatic, life-changing experiences, a service dog can provide a second chance at a normal life. No one knows this more than Jim Staneck, the founder of Paws and Stripes: a non-profit organization that pairs service dogs with veterans who suffer from PTSD and other combat-related disabilities. A disabled vet himself, Staneck has made great strides in helping others like him navigate everyday challenges a little more smoothly upon returning to civilian life. But recently, Staneck experienced harsh discrimination when a United Airlines worker verbally abused him and violently kicked his service dog Sarge several feet across the airport floor.
Staneck’s flight out of Dulles Airport had been cancelled and the New Mexico veteran was having trouble deciphering airport information that would lead him to his next flight. A victim of PTSD and a brain injury, Staneck often has difficulty with reading comprehension. But when the vet asked a United Airlines customer service representative for help, the employee began hurling derogatory slurs at Staneck and eventually kicked Sarge in the ribcage so hard that she flew several feet into her owner’s lap.
Fearing for his own safety and the safety of his animal companion, Staneck took refuge with Sarge in a corner of the airport. Eventually, two employees found them and assisted the veteran in finding his flight. Staneck and Sarge were able to get home, but the sting of the abuse they experienced at the hands of United Airlines lingers. The airline company must take responsibility for this horrific incident. No one, human or animal, deserves to be berated and physically abused after simply asking for help. Tell United Airlines to fire this abusive worker and train employees to assist customers with disabilities and their dogs so that this kind of incident never happens again.
Dear United Airlines,
Every day, countless Americans rely on your company to travel around the country and around the world. United Airlines stands as a trusted brand for travelers from all walks. That’s why I was shocked and saddened to learn that an employee of United Airlines recently harassed and abused a disabled veteran and his service dog at Dulles Airport.
When Jim Staneck, a disabled veteran who suffers from PTSD and a brain injury, approached the ticket counter seeking help with a delayed flight, he was met with unthinkable harassment. The customer service representative hurled a derogatory slur at the veteran and then proceeded to kick his service dog so violently that she flew into her owner’s lap. This kind of assault should not be tolerated from anyone, let alone an employee hired to help the public. I demand that you investigate this case, fire the worker in question, and train each of your customer service employees to compassionately handle the requests of customers with disabilities.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Calsidyrose.