Local Navy family's dog stranded: Airline says dog's kennel was too big to load on plane

SAN DIEGO - There is anger and frustration Wednesday evening for a local Navy family shipped overseas and forced to leave a family pet behind.

"All I want is my dog back," said Hospital Corpsman First Class John Gromer.

Gromer has been without his dog Gunner since Nov. 29. That was the day he and his family were relocated to Japan by the Navy. One-year-old Gunner was forced to stay behind and is being cared for by a family friend in San Diego.

"I had to walk away in the airport, leaving my dog basically stranded and alone in the airport so I could make my flight," said Gromer.

American Airlines told the Gromer family Gunner's kennel was two inches too big to load onto the plane.

Gromer, who is a veteran of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, told 10News to make matters worse, the ticket agent was rude.

"You know, they look at my kid crying and she yells – the attendant yells across the airport and says, 'Sir, your dog can't go now. Get him off my scale,'" he said.

After repeated requests on Wednesday for comment, American Airlines responded to 10News in an email, which read, "We have received the email you sent to our general media relations mailbox. This email box is checked several times a day so someone will get back to you."

Late Wednesday evening, 10News still had not heard from the airline. Gromer himself has tried to five times to get some answers from American Airlines, and he also has not heard back.

He has only been told it will cost nearly $4,000 to fly Gunner to Okinawa on a cargo plane, which is way above the original fee of $175.

Gromer says that is unfair.

"I don't like being disrespected," he said. "I don't like my family being disrespected."

Gromer said the kennel he brought to the airport was large because guidelines on the airline's website suggest that the dog have enough room in the crate to be comfortable. He said he was just trying to comply.

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