Baggage worker offered job back after dog debacle

RENO (AP) - The baggage handling contractor that fired a Reno airport worker in a dispute over transporting an unhealthy dog offered the woman her job back with back pay Tuesday, and the company's president praised her courage to stand up for the animal.

Airport Terminal Services Inc. also will contribute an unspecified amount of money to the Nevada Humane Society over the next three years to help "strengthen awareness regarding the mistreatment of animals," said Sally Leible, president and CEO of the St. Louis-based company.

Lynn Jones, who had worked more than five years as a baggage handler for ATS at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, said she was fired about three weeks ago when she refused her supervisor's orders to put the emaciated hunting dog on a plane bound for Corpus Christi, Texas.

Animal welfare workers picked up the animal. It recovered and was eventually returned to its owner.

Jones "was trying to protect the dog, and I think she was courageous in doing that," Leible told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I really, truly hope she will come back."

Lieble said the company would use the incident as a learning tool to educate workers at the 38 U.S. airports ATS serves and renew the company's "commitment to recognize and report animal abuse of any form."

Jones said Monday that she was working in the cargo area last month when she saw the dog in a pet carrier. She said its body was covered with sores and its paws were worn raw.

"It was so thin, it made me cry," she said. She said when she told her supervisor about it, he insisted she load the pointer onto the plane because its paperwork was in order and its condition was none of her concern.

"I kept telling my supervisor, 'That dog is going to die if it gets on that plane,"' Jones said.

Leible said would not discuss whether any other employees would face disciplinary action. She told AP she was out of the country last week and returned "to this firestorm" when she came back Sunday.

She said the matter had not previously reached the senior executive level so she asked a vice present to "completely reinvestigate it."

After talking to all the employees involved, "and with the benefit of some hindsight, we looked at it in a fresh and frank way," she said.

"There was just a lot of high emotion at the end of the day," Leible said. "Emotion can be forgiven because you are trying to do the right thing."

As of Tuesday night, Jones had not accepted the job offer, Leible said.

"We're trying to bring it to a resolution. We're not across that finish line yet," she told AP.

Jones, 56, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment on Tuesday. She said Monday that she didn't know what she would do if offered her old job back.

"I would have to really think about it," she said.


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