So it’s come to this: America’s love for dogs and other furry non-humans has become so all-consuming that people on an airplane will cheer when a 7-year-old boy is removed from a flight because he had an allergic reaction to a dog on board.
A kid who was on his way home to Phoenix after an especially meaningful trip to Bellingham, Wash., with his father, who has been diagnosed with terminal stage-4 cancer.
A kid whose father told local TV news media that he hopes he can convert the experience into teaching people to show more respect and sympathy for fellow humans.
A kid whose mother said she understood why they had to debark from the plane, but could not fathom her fellow human beings’ reaction.
The story – reported by local TV stations in Washington and Arizona — says Giovanni and his parents went to Washington state for a vacation as part of the father’s “bucket list” of things that he hoped to do before he dies.
On the return trip aboard Allegiant Flight 171 to Phoenix, the boy, who goes by Gio, began to have an allergic reaction to the dog, which was listed on the flight’s manifest as a service animal
“He began to get very itchy,” his mother, Christina Fabian, told King 5 News in Washington. “He was scratching all over and he started to get hives. So we informed the flight attendant, who informed us that, ‘Well, there’s dogs on every flight,’ and just smirked. . .”
The Feb. 22 flight’s takeoff was delayed, the couple said, and the family was asked to debark. The mother said she understood. But both parents told reporters that what happened next was deeply painful. Some passengers laughed at the boy in distress. And when the family packed up their belongings and exited the aircraft, some passengers clapped. Two days later, they flew home on a different flight.
“I felt hopeless when everyone started laughing at me and my kid,” the father, George Alvarado, told KPNX TV news in Arizona. “He was thinking that it’s his fault. He just kept saying, ‘Sorry, sorry.’ All of a sudden he just started crying.”
Allegiant Air has expressed regret about the event and worked to accommodate the family as best as possible, airline spokeswoman Kim Schaefer said Thursday.
As is the procedure with most airlines, the flight staff consulted with a physician on call for medical emergencies. The physician urged the boy to leave the flight for his own well-being, and the family — who had not previously been aware of the boy’s allergy — agreed with the physician’s recommendation, Schaefer said.
The airline made accommodations for the family and put them on the next available flight home, which was two days later because the airline has a limited number of routes, Schaefer said. She said she couldn’t confirm whether people applauded the boy’s departure — or, if people did applaud, whether it might have been because they were relieved the flight would be airborne soon after a delay of 90 minutes or so.
“We are deeply regretful,” Schaefer said. “It’s definitely a really sad situation.”
Giovanni seemed to handle the event with grace.
“People that do not have sadness do not understand what it feels like for people who do have sadness,” he told the Arizona news crew.
Makes you wonder which ones were the animals.
This post has been updated.