A bomb-sniffing military dog that has served two tours in Afghanistan was refused passage on a U.S. commercial flight to the Democratic National Convention last week by a pilot who was concerned the K-9 could be aggressive.
The 6-year-old German shepherd named Kevin was prevented from boarding a US Airways flight from Phoenix, Ariz., to Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 1. The dog has flown on other commercial flights previously, usually sitting on the floor at the row of seats next to the bulkhead of the passenger cabin with his Navy handler.
On the evening of Sept. 1, the dog and handler were preparing to board the US Airways flight at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix when the captain of the plane asked if the dog was trained to attack, according to a source with direct knowledge of the incident.
Handlers aren’t supposed to divulge details about the training of military working dogs, said the source, who didn’t want to be named. When the Navy handler didn’t go into detail about Kevin’s training, the pilot decided not to allow them on the flight.
A spokesman for US Airways confirmed the incident but said the captain was trying to protect other passengers.
“During the boarding process, the captain asked the passenger if the dog was an attack dog,” said spokesman Andrew Christie. “The passenger answered ‘sometimes.’ Out of caution, the captain denied boarding. We don’t transport attack dogs.”
Mr. Christie said the handler should have been more specific about the dog’s training.
“Had he said the dog was a bomb-sniffing dog, there wouldn’t have been a problem,” Mr. Christie said.
The U.S. Marshals service was notified of the incident and arranged for accommodations overnight for the dog and his handler. Kevin and his handler were allowed to fly the next morning, Sept. 2, to Charlotte on another US Airways flight.
The K-9 spent three days working at the Democratic convention, checking vehicles for explosives at police checkpoints in Charlotte near the Time Warner Cable arena where delegates gathered.
The Navy did not return a message seeking comment about the incident.