ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix wounded veteran booted off flight because of service dog

Dec 2, 2014, 5:01 PM | Updated: 5:01 pm

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Going through airport security is always expected to be a hassle, but for one local veteran, his experience was much worse than just the typical long TSA lines.

Army Sgt. Justin Bond wasn’t allowed to board his plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor because he had a service dog. Bond had the documentation typically needed for service animals to fly, but was turned away because he was traveling to Hawaii, which has additional requirements, including proof of rabies vaccines.

Bond was not notified before he arrived about the additional requirements.

“I held up all the documents with his service dog card and I said this is all I’m required to have by law and he can’t get this without his rabies vaccinations and they said no, we need that though,” Bond told ABC15 Arizona.

Bond was on his way to a retreat for veterans, many of whom are on suicide watch, where he and his fellow counselors help returning soldiers cope with coming home.

Bond’s service dog, Boomer, not only helps him with his physical needs, such as bringing him his crutches, but also serves as an essential member of the counselor team for others.

“I got him to help be able to break down the barrier with veterans that were having a lot of issues and needed help,” Bond said. “He’s the biggest part of our team because he always succeeds.”

But even when Bond agreed to leave Boomer behind, a U.S. Airways supervisor told him and his fellow counselors they still were not allowed to fly.

“We have suicidal veterans on there and he goes, ‘I don’t want to talk about that issue,” Bond said. “What would have happened if one of those guys would have committed suicide?”

Thankfully, Bond and his team, minus Boomer, took a different flight through a different airline and still made it to their retreat in Hawaii.

A U.S. Airways has since apologized for the mistake, but this is likely too little, too late for a group of veterans trying to make a difference in others’ lives, only to be turned away because of an unusual documentation request.

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Phoenix wounded veteran booted off flight because of service dog