Air Canada apologizes after soldier charged for service dog

An Alberta soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder says she’s disappointed Air Canada wouldn’t allow her dog on board a plane as a service animal.

An Alberta soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder says she’s disappointed Air Canada wouldn’t allow her dog on board a plane as a service animal.

Sgt. Shirley Jew said the airline told her PTSD isn’t recognized as a disability that requires a service dog. Staff told her she’d have to travel with her pug-schnauzer-terrier Snoopy as a pet — for a $50 fee.

“I never thought I would be treated like a third-class citizen like I was with them. It was a slap in the face,” Jew said Monday after taking a different flight from Edmonton to Toronto on WestJet.

She said WestJet let Snoopy fly for free.

Air Canada refunded Jew’s ticket and, in a statement, apologized, calling the matter a “misunderstanding.”

“Air Canada does have a policy in place to accept service animals of passengers with disabilities. These disabilities are not limited to physical disabilities,” said the statement.

The airline said it allows trained service animals for customers with disabilities, if they are confirmed by a doctor’s note.

“In this particular case, we have invited the customer to provide us with more complete information to allow the customer to travel on Air Canada with her service animal.”

Jew said she doesn’t understand what went wrong because, after she booked her ticket, she emailed Air Canada copies of letters from her doctor and the agency that trained her dog.

When she was later on the phone with the airline’s medical desk, she said she was asked prying questions about her health and her dog.

The 48-year-old woman, based at the 4 Wing base in Cold Lake northwest of Edmonton, said she was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012, after serving three tours overseas. She got Snoopy last spring and the dog helps calm her down when she gets anxious or angry.

“She’s always got my back,” said Jew. “She’s my angel.”

The little black and white dog will pull on the leash wrapped around Jew’s waist if it senses the woman is getting upset. When she’s sleeping and having a bad dream, the dog will wake her up before it blows up into a nightmare.

“People think ‘Oh, she’s your pet!’ No, no. She keeps me so that I can actually function semi-normal in society.”

Jew flew on Air Canada last November to attend a conference in Ottawa about service dogs. The airline didn’t question her then about the dog, she said. Snoopy sat quietly by her feet on the flight.

Her flight on Saturday was booked after her grandmother suddenly died in Toronto.

Mehgan Search and Rescue, the group that trained the animal, as well as the agency’s lawyer, called the airline. But they also had no luck convincing staff they were making a mistake, said Jew.

She believes more public education is needed to better acknowledge PTSD as a real disability.

“It’s a huge stigma … The only way people are going to understand what soldiers go through is sit and talk to us,” said Jew.

“I don’t want you to treat me like I’m special or I’m a superstar.

“I just want to get on the plane.

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Syrian immigrants feel welcomed

Winter Social held at Festival Hall to promote multiculturalism

Small group rallies with pro-immigration message

Group wanted to counter misinformation on United Nations migration agreement

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Kriechmayr edges Swiss favourite Feuz to win WCup downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland — It takes a special run to beat Switzerland’s best… Continue reading

WestJet plane heading to Victoria slides off Edmonton runway, no injuries

EDMONTON — A WestJet plane has slid off an icy taxiway at… Continue reading

Sam Bennett scores twice, Flames beat Red Wings 6-4

Flames 6, Red Wings 4 CALGARY — Sam Bennett scored twice including… Continue reading

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read