Airline refused a Wounded Army veteran’s service dog to board flight

Wounded Army veteran, Justin Bond, during the filming of a half hour show about Our Heroes' Dreams for Valley Veterans Forum. Photo credit: Facebook

Retired Army Sergeant Justin Bond was ready to board a flight to Hawaii with his service dog when he was turned away.  The airline neglected to inform him that he needed to meet strict guidelines in order to transport his companion, Boomer, to the island state.

According to FOX44, Bond, an Iraq war veteran, and Boomer were at the San Jose Airport on Sunday when they were told by U.S. Airways that the service dog could not make the trip to Kona, Hawaii.  The two were traveling with a team of counselors as well as veterans suffering from PTSD and depression.  Boomer was going to assist in one of the suicide prevention groups.

“He’s the biggest part of our team because he always succeeds, and we don’t have that now,” Bond said. “When I cannot break down or break through the ice, Boomer will go and do that.  He’s not here.”

The airlines website stated that service animals were allowed on all their flights.  However, when the two attempted to board, Bond was told by an airline worker that Boomer could not enter the airplane.

“He started off saying he needed rabies paperwork and I said his service dog certificate covers all of that,” said Bond.  “And somebody said he’s missing a leg. It’s against the law to ask what my disability is, it was inappropriate, embarrassing. And my dog, Boomer, knew something was wrong and started acting differently, responding to me differently.”

RTV6 reported that Bond and fellow counselors were unable to get on the flight, even without Boomer.  The veterans in the program were able to continue without them, which worried the group a little.

“We have suicidal veterans on there and the airline guy goes, ‘I don’t want to talk about that issue.’  He said, ‘The airplane door is closed.’  It wasn’t closed yet.  And they sat there for almost another 15 minutes.  What would have happened if one of those guys would have committed suicide?” Bond said.

While American Airlines offered to book him and Boomer on an evening flight, he had to decline and travel without the service dog.  Bond need to arrive around the same time as the rest of the group.  He and his fellow counselors were able to make it to Hawaii on the other airline around the time desired, but without Boomer.

Bond had to make arrangements for Boomer to be picked up.  “My dad had to drive from Hanford to San Jose to pick him up from my friend.”

According to RTV6, a U.S. Airways representative called and apologized for the misinformation, stating Bond should have been given information on the additional paperwork needed before he arrived at the airport.  Airline representatives are still looking into why Bond and the other counselors weren’t allowed to board, even without Boomer.

“When a dog is doing something good for you, and he’s doing what he’s supposed to and you pass him off and now he’s gone from you, he might think he’s being punished,” Bond said with concern about his partner, Boomer.  The two had not spent time apart in over a year.

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