Me, in trouble with Homeland Security. REALLY.

I am in so much trouble. I have an actual case number with the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY and could be disqualified from the TSA PreChecked Screening program for committing an actual crime.

I’m serious. I’m more badass than I ever imagined. For true.

Here’s what happened: last summer – on June 26, 2015, according to official Transportation Security Administration records – the Tricia Booker family went to the airport to catch a flight to Boston. You may remember this trip – we flew to Boston, visited a cool amusement park, and stayed in a mansion in Maine with extended family. I sprained my ankle TWICE climbing mountains and it was freezing.

Anyway, it was Buddy the Wonder Dog’s first flight, and it did not go well. Buddy apparently has a fear of flying. Who knew? I must have subconsciously suspected it, though, because I strapped the training collar around his neck so I could nudge him if he misbehaved. I have a remote I use to stimulate the collar when Buddy isn’t following orders – the stimulation can be a high-frequency tone, a vibration, or a light shock. I rarely shock him; usually, just wearing the collar is enough to put him on his best behavior.

As we went through security, the guard flagged Buddy’s collar and asked me what it was. I told him it was an e-collar. He told me to stay put, and he walked away, then returned with a more important guard, who told me I couldn’t take it with me. And I was all, DAMN, but I didn’t say that because TERRORISM and I have the greatest respect in the world for airport security people. The important guard said I could return to the airline desk and have the collar stowed in my checked luggage, but there was no time – I would have missed the flight. I asked him if he could hold it for me, and he said no. So I just left it, and he said he would throw it away. I breathed a heavy sigh, because we hadn’t even boarded the plane and this vacation had already cost me a hundred bucks, but whatever, we got on the plane and Buddy almost had a heart attack, we landed, the vacationing commenced, the end.

BUT APPARENTLY, NOT SO FAST, SLICK. APPARENTLY, I was in direct violation of rule 1540.111 (a) Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals (Person) of the Transportation Security Regulations. APPARENTLY, a dog’s e-collar can be used as a weapon, although I’m unclear on how.

The good news is that the TSA “has determined that this Warning Notice adequately addresses this incident.” The bad news is that “this civil penalty action is separate from any other federal, state or local criminal proceeding that may have been brought against you.”

NOTE: Just so it’s clear, no one asked me a single question about having a 75-lb dog at the airport.

ANOTHER NOTE: I’ve flown eight times between the e-collar incident and the receipt of the letter, and I feel guilty about that because I might be a hazard.

It’s slightly concerning, of course, that it took the government 10 months to let me know I’d committed a crime. Who knows how long it could take them to file charges? I hope I don’t have to be on house arrest and wear an ankle bracelet. Maybe I could get an exception for CrossFit and the grocery.

Anyway, Mr. T. Sanchez of the TSA suggested in his letter that I check the TSA website for a list of prohibited items, which I did, and I couldn’t find “training collar” or “e-collar” or “dog zapper” anywhere on the list. So I might appeal whatever sentence I receive for the crime I may or may not have committed. In the meantime, I’m on the lam. At my house, of course. But still. I’m bad, y’all.

12 responses to Me, in trouble with Homeland Security. REALLY.

  1. Thomas Booker says:

    Gee Cousin, don’t we still have a couple of lawyer-acquaintances in the family who could clear this up?

  2. Bob says:

    I guess maybe they thought you’d jump up and attach the e-collar to a flight attendant and demand everyone get full cans of soda…

    • tricia says:

      I’m much more likely to demand extra snacks. ; )

  3. Elaine says:

    I recommend negotiation. They let you take the e collar and you volunteer forevermore to go through the machine that screens your nakedness.

  4. Ashley says:

    Not sure how this ended up getting resolved, but the TSA has shock collars on their website listed as an item allowed in both in carry on and stowed luggage.

    • tricia says:

      SERIOUSLY? I will have to look that up. I don’t know that it was resolved – I never heard from them again – but I know I never get randomly chosen for the pre-check line….

  5. Kaitlyn says:

    I know this is an old post but in case anyone else reads it I just looked up “shock collars” on the TSA website and it says that they are allowed in both carry on and checked baggage. I am going to attempt it for my flight tomorrow and see how it goes!

    • tricia says:

      HOW DID IT GO? I wonder if that’s a new development since my trip….SO GLAD I WASN’T ARRESTED.

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