Baggage handler fired over concern for starving dog

Lynn Jones (photo credit: Marilyn Newton)

Sounds like Lynn Jones is looking for a job, so I’ve got a suggestion for the Humane Society of the United States. Dump your current spokesperson and hire Jones.

The former Reno-Tahoe International Airport baggage handler put her job on the line — and eventually lost it — for the sake of a starving, suffering dog. When she refused to load him into the cargo compartment of a plane bound for Texas, her manager responded with a show of compassion the Nazis would have admired: the dog had its papers and was not Jones’s concern.

Jones felt differently. “The dog was so weak and torn up. It didn’t look like it could survive the flight,” she said, referring to the animal’s bloodied paws and emaciated, sore-infected body. So instead of keeping quiet or doing as she was told, Jones went to airport police who in turn called local animal services.

The good news is that the dog was taken into custody by Washoe County and treated for his wounds and malnutrition. Bravo to those who intervened and ensured the dog at least a few days or weeks of kindness, not to mention meals and medical treatment. The unfortunate news is that the dog is now in Texas, where he was originally scheduled to be shipped. It’s unclear as to whether his owner at that time is again the legal custodian.

As for Jones, who was fired on the spot, a message: Know that you are a hero and a role model. We need more like you, people who take action when faced with suffering and injustice, people who refuse to be even the least bit complicit in cruelty.

Jones told the Reno Gazette Journal, “My supervisor said it wasn’t my concern, but animal abuse is everyone’s concern who sees it.” Indeed. Fire the supervisor for the “just follow orders” attitude. Promote Jones to the head of the department.

UPDATE 12.7.11: According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Jones has been offered her job, including back pay, should she want it to return to work in her former position. Jones has not decided whether she’ll accept, fearing retaliation from the managers involved in her dismissal. Sally Leible, president of Airport Terminal Services, insists Jones would be welcomed back warmly and that the incident will serve as a “teaching moment.”