Airline Employees Abuse Disabled Veteran and His Service Dog

Paws and Stripes founder and disabled veteran Jim Staneck is seeking support from fellow dog lovers after he and his service dog were insulted and assaulted by United Airline employees.

Staneck and his service dog Sarge spent 48 hours stranded in the Dulles Airport after numerous flight cancellations and delays. Wounded in battle, Staneck suffers from a brain injury that makes it difficult for him to concentrate under stress. When he struggled to understand changes to his itinerary an employee at the ticket counter insulted him.

“He said, ‘Just read it’ and I said, ‘Sir I can’t read it,’ and he said, ‘What are you retarded?'” Staneck 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.”

To make matters worse, Staneck says Sarge was kicked twice by United employees. He said the second kick was so hard that it sent her flying.

“(He) kicked her so hard on the rib cage, that she flew into my lap… He said he was afraid of dogs,” Staneck said. He and Sarge literally hid in a corner until they were able to board a flight home.

Staneck is asking fellow animal lovers to contact United Airlines and let the company know that our veterans and the dogs they rely on deserve better. He describes the incident in the following video.

0 thoughts on “Airline Employees Abuse Disabled Veteran and His Service Dog”

  1. I went through a range of emotions reading this, this is unacceptable and down right disguting. We should start a petition on Change.org, those employees need to be terminated at once and United held accountable.
    Dulles is very close to us, if we had known we would have welcomed Mr. Staneck and his puppy into our home.

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    • yes that act is not acceptable ……..is somebody or anyone will start the petition? i am ready to sign up and give this evil people a lesson.

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    • Since you tossed the offer out there perhaps you would consider doing just that for the next Mr. Staneck and Sarge. If you have like minded friends in the area maybe you could coordinate with the Dulles USO and create a network of service dog friendly homes that would put them up. Just the fact that you said it has inspired me to contact the USO at my local airport and put the offer on the table.

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    • Here are some contacts, e-mail and snail mail

      Jeffery A. Smisek
      P.O. Box 66100
      Chicago, IL 60666
      President and Chief Executive Officer, United Continental Holdings, Inc.

      (847) 700-4000
      [email protected]

      Secondary contact (*)

      Scott O’Leary,
      Managing director, customer solutions
      P.O. Box 66100
      Chicago, IL 60666
      (847) 700-4000

      [email protected]

      Anne Seeley
      Director, Customer Care
      900 Grand Plaza Dr.
      Houston, TX 77067
      (832) 235-1802

      [email protected]

      Reply
  2. I never endured the indignity that the injured veteran suffered with his service dog while flying. I suppose I was lucky. This sort of thing should not happen to any one for any reason. God bless you.

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  3. WTF? Airline employess are in the hospitality field…what kind of hospitality is that?? They should be fired…then while in flight kicked so hard out of the plane and watch them fly!!! This soldier deserves much more respect than what he got!! He is the reason we live in a country like we have. He was fighting because of 9/11 where fellow airline employees were killed by terrorists…OMG!!! I am at a loss for words right now!! Mr. Staneck, I am so sorry this happened to you. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COURAGE AND STRENGTH AND YOUR GREAT SERVICE FOR OUR COUNTRY SO THAT WE CAN HAVE THE FREEDOM WE DO!!! And to Sarge…you are a hero too little girl!!! Sorry that some humans can be so nasty and mean!!! <3

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  4. This is absolutely unconscionable, but not surprising. United Airlines is probably one of the worst airlines on the face of the Earth. I would not fly United if i were offered a free ticket anywhere in the universe. I do wonder why no one, including other passengers, came to his aid. I would have been at his side in a New York minute, even if it meant missing my flight.

    I try not to be litigious, but clearly, this is an actionable legal issue. Mr. Staneck should sue the daylights out of United. I also like the idea of starting a petition at Change.org.

    This happens all too often everywhere. If business owners knew they would be facing boycott, public ridicule, and lawsuits, maybe they would better educate themselves about the treatment of people and their service animals.

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    • Ha! I was offered two free $150 vouchers from United when I had incidents on my flights to and from Australia (they lost my luggage on the first flight and I didn’t get it until the day before my return flight) – and the flight back to the states? The plane didn’t have water. The sent me vouchers for me to fly with them again. I don’t think so. Lousy customer service, and rude employees… I play extra to fly other airlines, dollar for dollar it works out cheaper than me buying new clothes while I was waiting for mine to show up. I hope the employees responsible for Mr Staneck and his dog’s abuse are severely punished.

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  5. While internet petitions make everyone who signs them feel pretty good for about 30 seconds as “doing their part” the sad fact is that internet petitions even signed by hundreds of thousands of people simply do not achieve their desired outcome. Witness the Lennox tragedy where even a quarter MILLION signed petitions had no effect whatsoever.

    What actually needs to happen is for people to WRITE REAL LETTERS — as in writing (not e-mailing) polite (no profanities) but outraged letters to the airline executives and demanding explanations and demanding termination of the offending employees, making multiple polite but outraged (again, no profanities) phone calls to the airlines demanding explanations and demanding termination of the guilty employees, to go to airline counters in your area and demand to speak to a supervisor and in person express your outrage and demand an explanation, and even contact any travel agents with whom you have established relationships and inform them you will NOT use United Airlines and tell them why and request that they also notify the airlines that they are losing business because of what UA did. And make sure the video is sent to local TV stations! Guaranteed someone will air that information (hint: FOX network strongly supports our troops and veterans and that is a great place to start).

    Unless there is a concerted direct effort made, UA — like every other large organization which gets away with this crap — going to ignore people’s concerns.

    Through contacts with his veterans support services this gentleman who was victimized by abusive airline personnel can obtain legal help for a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He may also have a personal injury claim under his state laws for the incendiary language used by the airline employee and may also have a claim under federal law for the insults. As for the kicking of the dog there should also be available state criminal charges for animal cruelty. In some states there are also special laws against deliberately harming a service animal.

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    • I am not disagreeing about real letters and your other suggestions, but an online petition recently did work. I wish I could remember which one, but there was coverage after the fact of a company changing based on an online petition/Facebook campaign. Obviously the more ways United is contacted, the better, but online petitions sometimes get media attention the fastest.

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  6. The appalling thing is that United is the DoD’s contract carrier. I urge Jim, Paws & Stripes and allied organizations to make a holy stink about this until DoD puts pressure on UA to take action. I won’t accept people who feel entitled to insult our vets after they’ve been injured in the field, I’m not okay with people abusing animals out of fear or ignorance, but I sure as HELL don’t understand these companies abusing Jim & Sarge when they’d paid to take a flight. When did we get to a place in our culture that these corporate a-holes think they’re entitled to treat paying customers like crap?

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    • I’m sure another airline would LOVE to pick up that contract. How about US Airways since they just built up a LOT of flights in the DCA area. They would treat that service animal and soldier like GOLD!

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      • Delta would love it. They are great with SD, vets and other people. My most recent trip I had a split flight. I flew Delta one direction. Great service. Had no issues. United on the way back, first they lost one of my tickets, because one passenger didn’t have the same last name as myself. Then when we missed our flight because of issue one, they said we were on stand by for the next flight. And we didn’t get put on a list. It took me calling the service desk, asking to be put on the Next flight for at least one minor so they could get home. They then changed my flight, Bussed us to a small local airfield an hour away, flew to DFW, had to pay for my own hotel and food. Then when I called the corporate office when I got home, “That is just the way the rules are.”

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    • THIS IS NO WAY TO TREAT OUR PEOPLE WITH HANDY-CAP OR KICKIG ANIMALS THAT HELP THEM ARE WE HUMANS OE IS THERE A LITTLE SAVAGE IN THESE PEOPLE BOYCOTT BOYCOTT PLEASE MNY AIRLINES WITH EMPLOYEES WITH MORE CLASS .
      AIRLINE NEEDS TO REPAY THIS VET AND HIS COMPANION MUCH, MUCH

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  7. Have posted on United’s fb page and sent an email because I am disgusted at how Jim and Sarge were dishonored and asked for the employees involved to be fired and for them to institute a training program for their employees to prevent this from happening in the future. Best wishes to Jim and Sarge.

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