Seven Puppies Die After American Airlines Flight

Chicago’s CBS2 reports that fifteen puppies were loaded on a Chicago-bound American Airlines flight in Tulsa. A few hours later, five of the puppies were dead when they arrived at O’Hare airport. Two more died in the care of a veterinarian.

Rest assured, American Airlines is taking it very seriously, even if they don’t use those words. No airline wants to be known as puppy-killers.

“The aircraft held 14 animals (puppies of unknown breed) and they were alive when unloaded from the plane,” [an AA spokesperson] said via email. “The animals kennels were taken to a location at American’s facilities at O’Hare where they were to be kept until their connecting flight.”

At some point, seven of the puppies died.

“We are continuing our internal investigation into what happened once the animals arrived at O’Hare,” she said.

Temperatures reached 87 degrees in Tulsa yesterday morning before the plane took off, so the pups may have been victims of the current heat wave…or already sick when loaded on the plane. The airline is investigating.

Tipster Cosmic.charlie noted when he sent the story in: “Puppies shouldn’t fly. They should ride bikes instead.”

That cheered me up a little bit, at least. A little.
Dead Puppies Arrive On American Airlines Flight [CBS2]


Edit Your Comment

  1. chucklesjh says:

    Too bad searching Google for “pet shipping” has AA in the top 3.

  2. peebozi says:

    the animals working in baggage are probably responsible. dirty, stinking animals.

    • bhr says:

      What the fuck is wrong with you?

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Because, unless the owners packed them in a poisoned carrier, this is entirely true. Either they weren’t placed in a pressurized area of the aircraft, or an area of the aircraft with no climate control. Either way, the baggage handlers are responsible.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          Because pets can’t be sick? Hell, a dog can eat three grapes and die. Having had kittens, I know exactly how fast an illness can circulate among them. What is worse is that by the time symptoms emerge, they usually all have it, so isolation becomes even more impossible. It is possible that the shipping contributed to the death due to stress, but not be the direct cause.

        • MrEvil says:

          There is no unpressurized part of an aircraft fuselage. Even the baggage hold is pressurized because a cylinder is a much better pressure vessel than a half-cylinder. There was an incident where an aircraft had a particular defect with its baggage hold door, where the baggage handlers would get the signal for hard seal when in fact the latching mechanism had completely failed. What happened in one instance was once the aircraft had reached altitude the faulty cargo door sprung open letting all the atmosphere out of the hold. The difference in pressure caused the passenger compartment floor to collapse.

          The incident prompted a change in aircraft ventilation design, modern passenger aircraft have a common ventilation system for the entire fuselage so as not to create such a pressure differential. If the cargo hold loses pressure so does the rest of the aircraft interior. Also, by sharing a common atmosphere the baggage hold is generally going to be at roughly the same temperature as the passenger compartment.

    • DarksSideMoon says:

      You sir, have no idea what you are talking about.

  3. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    How would you explain that one to the kids…

    curious as to why 15 puppies on one plane….wonder if they were all sick to begin with…

    • Marlin says:

      Could be a breeder. You buy a pet from Breeder in XYZ state. You pay and they ship it. To ship they use airlines, as chucklesjh pointed out searching for pet shipping brings up airlines.

      Or could be a breeder going to a show to sale.

    • zibby says:

      “Son, your puppy died. It sucks, but there it is. I’ll get you a fresh one when you’re ready.”

    • Gizmosmonster says:

      This sounds like a puppy mill shipment.

    • nodaybuttoday says:

      Could also be a transport from a no-kill shelter? I know my area transports many puppies all the time to foster homes… my dog came from Atlanta!

  4. fsnuffer says:

    Kind of makes United’s breaking of a guitar not that big of a deal. This one would be a tough one to make a video about.

  5. edicius is an acquired taste says:

    This is why I would never, EVER fly with my dog. I’d sooner drive across the country with him (which is what the wife and I are actually doing when we drive from New Jersey to Michigan for Thanksgiving this year).

    • Ben says:

      Yep, same here. I recently moved from one coast to the other. I shipped my stuff and then drove mostly to transport my cats. I looked into going by train, which would’ve been fun, but they don’t allow pets.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      There’s a strong possibility I might be transferred to the Middle East next year, and I’m not talking about Ohio, folks. I’d love to drive there, no matter how long it took, because I have three kitties who have been my companions for more than five years. They are honestly all I have right now to keep my home from feeling like an isolation cell. I am terrified something might happen to them on the flight. I only wish I could drive.

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        Is it possible for you to take them in the cabin? I know I’ve seen cats in carriers on flights before, although I suppose three in one that would fit under the seat would be a tight fit. Also, when I was on a flight to Australia from the US there were some fancy private rooms. I wonder if you could get a flight like that that would like you keep the cats in a room? I bet it would cost an arm and leg but its something you could look into.

        • burnedout says:

          Samsonite makes good pet carriers for planes. I flew two elderly cats and they did great in their cushy carrier.

      • jvanbrecht says:

        I have a great dane.. the smallest crate he fits in is much too large to ship… He does sit on chairs like humans.. I wonder if I could buy him a ticket :)

        In all seriousness, I understand the issue, I have thought about moving overseas on occasion.. and as far as I can tell, the only real option is by ship for a giant dog weighing in close to 200 pounds…

      • Draw2much says:

        I flew 2 cats from Japan to Texas. It was almost a 24 hour trip. They flew with the baggage. (They’re 10 pounds each and wouldn’t fit under the JAL seats.) Did they like it? No. Did they object strenuously? Yes. Did they suffer short or long term damage? Nope.

        In fact, I was mildly surprised that they both forgave me instantly. The moment they were out of the kennels and had a litter box available, they were happy. xD

        So don’t be afraid to fly them. Even as “cargo”. It’s not the best method, but it’s better than trying to find them a new home. Or worse, having to give them to a shelter that might euthanize them.

  6. dbeahn says:

    I think I’m going to reserve judgement until cause of death is determined. This just seems too odd to rush to blame the Airline.

    • SpruceStreetPhil - in a new Pine flavor says:

      Probably died due to hypothermia. Unlike human babies which are loaded with fat, puppies only have their fur to keep them warm and thus can’t withstand such low temperatures as a plane cargo-hold for extended periods. It would explain the large number of deaths, and the lack of older dogs dying.

      • pz says:

        Unlike human babies which are loaded with fat, puppies only have their fur to keep them warm and thus can’t withstand such low temperatures as a plane cargo-hold for extended periods.

        I think you’d find that studies show that human babies, fat notwithstanding, can’t survive 8 hours at -50F either.

        • sirwired says:

          Huh? The cargo hold is NOT 50 below. It isn’t ventilated quite as well as the main cabin, but it is pressurized just like the rest of the plane and ventilated well enough for animals to survive outside of extreme heat or cold while the plane is on the ground.

          If it were -50 in flight any liquids in your checked luggage would freeze and explode. They don’t.

      • coren says:

        …but the children can, which is why we put children in the hold?!

        (sorry it’s just the whole comparing puppies and babies in regards to their ability to withstand the cargo hold of a plane is just so out there to me)

    • It'sRexManningDay! says:

      I agree. There are so many shady breeders our there, who’s to say these poor puppies weren’t loaded onto the plane already sick? 15 is a pretty big litter, or possibly multiple litters, which I suppose could indicate it was a puppy mill shipment.

  7. DarthCoven says:

    Without knowing the source of these puppies and where they were headed I’m going to reserve judgment. This may have nothing to do with AA and everything to do with a shady puppy mill shipping sick animals to customers. My wife works as a vet tech and I’ve witnessed some puppies only a few months into life that were way too sick because of horrid conditions at the “breeder”.

  8. Amy Alkon says:

    It sounds like these puppies were under the plane. It is possible they all had some illness, but I would NEVER send my dog under the plane. It’s just too risky. Because I planned to travel with my dog (and did before the economy tanked), I got a tiny dog, and one that has hair, not fur, so it wouldn’t torture people with allergies. (There are a few breeds like this.)

  9. PanicSwitch says:

    I’d not tend to blame the airline just yet until more information comes out. Could very well have been sick animals from a breeder. Additionally, dogs do sometimes require additional oxygen when flying at higher altitudes, it could be any number of reasons.

  10. bastion72 says:

    Didn’t they ban shipping pets during the hottest time of the year? The belly of the plane is not air conditioned and the temps were probably in the 90’s yesterday making it even hotter in the cargo hold. Also with the way delays are I’m sure that they waited an hour or two on the runway.

    • Fair&Balanced says:

      When you are flying at 40,000 feet it is freezing.

      What probably happened was the cargo hold lost pressurization which killed the puppies who could not survive with the really low oxygen.

      • sirwired says:

        If the cargo hold lost pressurization, the rest of the cabin would have also. The main cabin is not pressure-sealed from the cargo hold. (If it were, the cabin would require a much heavier and bulkier floor, drastically reducing the usable volume inside the plane.) The cargo hold shares air with the cabin, although the cargo hold does not receive as much air circulation.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Then why did two die later? Hypoxia is cured by giving oxygen.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        “I do know people were trying to cool them off. The animals looked lethargic,” she said.

    • Chmeeee says:

      Who is “they,” and why would they ban shipping pets because it’s summer?

      • stevenpdx says:

        Because sometimes the baggage sits out on the tarmac for a long time, in the hot sun, before being loaded into the cargo hold. You don’t want to have Rover in a cage in the hot sun.

    • JonStewartMill says:

      I have never traveled by air with my dogs, but I have had dogs shipped to me via air freight. The airline I used has a policy that the animal will not be allowed on a flight if the weather is forecast to be above a certain temperature (85 degrees?) at any stop on the route.

    • pot_roast says:

      “The belly of the plane is not air conditioned “

      Not true at all. Cargo holds are climate controlled.

      People often think they’re not pressurized or climate controlled, but that is not true at all.

  11. DariusC says:

    Great way to start the morning guys. Right after that, my computer had a mandatory reboot… Going to have to read a lot of (uplifting) stories to fix this mood.

  12. Stiv says:

    Dead puppies aren’t much fun.

  13. Destron says:

    Thats pretty sad, but hard to say anything without knowing the details…

    I would never take my dog on a plane though, I couldn’t stand they though of him being treated like luggage.

  14. slim150 says:

    my cat once missed his flight, so he was stuck at the airport for a long time. but they did give him some water… BOTTLED water. They just threw it in the crate.. like he could open it.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      You mean your cat CAN’T open bottles?

    • Chmeeee says:

      My cat would have had that thing open in a hot second. And spilled everywhere.

    • Conformist138 says:

      That’s even better than when i left my dog in the care of my roommate for a weekend. Before I left she came in my room and asked, with complete sincerity, “So, do I need to feed him while you’re gone?”

      I nearly canceled my trip right then.

  15. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Never ever ever would I send my dog in cargo on an airplane. If they do survive, many come out completely freaked out for days and days. It borders on cruelty.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Not as cruel as having pets. PETA says you abuse your pets.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      We put our dog in a kennel for a few days. It was a well recommended kennel and I have no reason to think they mistreated him. But when I picked him up from there, he had rubbed the side of his face raw against the door of the kennel, trying to get out. We never left him again, and I’d never put a pet in a scary place, like a kennel or the hold of a plane, again.

    • ellemdee says:

      I had my dog’s teeth cleaned at the vet and she wasn’t herself for days afterward. When I came to pick her up, the vet herself had been holding my dog for the last hour because she was so freaked out. It took 2 days before she finally calmed down (and stopped being mad at me). I can’t image how traumatic a plane ride would be.

  16. dolemite says:

    Well, great…now I’m opening up a hump day with dead puppies.

  17. greekgod says:

    We flew from Frankfurt, GE to Atlanta and our beloved dog almost died. KLM did not feed him nor give him water. We filed a complaint but never heard back…nevertheless, we will never fly KLM again.

  18. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Please, please please — Do Not Ship Your Pets. Period.

    There are people (loving, caring people) who offer Taxi services, cross-country. IMO, there is no reason to take an animal overseas—so that should save your problem.

  19. phonic says:

    There is something in this story we are not being told. My dog, Shamus an Irish Terrier was shipped to us on an airplane…actually I think it was AA that flew him down. He was on a direct flight and my husband was at the airport waiting for him. He wasn’t freaked out from the plane and loves to travel. He was more nervous about not knowing where his “mommy” was than the plane ride.

    • MrEvil says:

      Same here, my aunt had a Sheltie that she could no longer keep due to her moving to a non pet-friendly apartment. The dog was shipped to us on AA and she didn’t seem to mind the travel, we had her for about 7 years after that.

      My dad’s Shih Tzu would go apeshit if I took him anywhere without his daddy. That was until I took him over to a friend’s place for a play-date with his Pit-bull/Labrador mix. It was so hilarious watching those two chase each other around the sofa and a tree out in the apartment’s yard, they played really well together. After that, dad’s dog didn’t ever get travel anxiety, now you can’t keep that little turdball out of the car or pickup.

      • phonic says:

        The same day we picked up Shamus we brought him over to a friend’s house who had a huge dog. My little puppy took one look at him and he pee’d himself right there. Travel was a little rough at first, the dog got car sick! Now that he is 2 you say the words “car ride” and he won’t leave you alone until he is in the car and the car is moving.

  20. MrEvil says:

    If the 15 puppies were all from the same breeder and they were all worth enough money I would have hired a pet transportation company. Although it surprises me that Airlines don’t have to go through USDA licencing procedures to transport animals the way a ground pet transport company has to.

  21. Unclaoshi says:

    Should have paid the keep the pet alive fee

  22. sufreak says:

    After all these stories, it reinforces that I will NEVER, EVER ship my dog. I wouldn’t before, but this locks it in. I have a 3 year old English Bulldog with enough anxiety issues.

    I can’t imagine the heartbreak these owners are going through.

  23. MikieJag says:

    I find it hard to believe, when we ship out two animals (heading to Afghanistan shortly) they would only take two per flight, the temps in ALL airports needed to be below 85 and a few other stipulations, inlcuding short nosed dogs.

    The topper was that I could only make reservations, and would not get the slots until showing up at LAX as well. So not to blame the OP, and noting that the Article had few details, I would bet this was a breeder that may have had short nosed dogs that may have done their own health certificates as well….

  24. skygirl says:

    As a former airline employee, and now as an airport operations officer, I can give you multiple reasons not to ship a pet via airline.

    1. Cargo holds are not equipped for live animals. I don’t care what any airline says, they aren’t.

    2. At the large airport I work at, there are about three crated animals lost per week. The animal either chews through the crate or the crate breaks, and the animal goes flying out the cargo door when it opens. I have recovered some of these pets alive, I have scraped a few off of runways, and some have never been seen again.

    3. When flights get delayed, or there are misconnections, the pet ends up in a designated “live animal” area. That is usually a baggage cart.

    4. Humidity often causes false fire or smoke indications in a cargo hold. The pilot will have to activate the halon fire extinguisher, knowing there are live animals in the hold. Halon deprives the cargo of oxygen. You can guess what happens. My husband has had to do this twice in his pilot career. Nothing like listening to your husband bawling between flights about this. For the record, we can ship our pets for free, and we drove all of our four legged children from Florida to Arizona because we wanted them healthy and happy when they arrived at their new home.

    Folks, you wouldn’t put your kids in the cargo hold (I hope.) Why is anyone shocked when these things happen. Yes, it is way more expensive to use a pet taxi service. Yes, it is more time consuming to drive you pet somewhere. Ask yourself what is more important, the life of your pet or the cost of the shipping.

    The same goes for parents who don’t purchase a seat for their small child and hold them in their lap on aircraft. Lap children are projectiles. Is your child’s life worth the price of a ticket?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      You worked for an airline, and the airport let you out on the runway to clean up, instead of the airport employees?

      Also, last time I needed to do an operations audit, I seem to recall Halon no longer being used. And wouldn’t this be harmful to the humans on the plane? Unless your husband and his crew put on their masks and gassed all the passengers…

  25. backinpgh says:

    Perhaps someone was sick and tired of these mothereffin puppies on their mothereffin plane?

  26. brinks says:

    Were these puppies from a puppy mill or an animal control facility? Puppies from both kinds of places are kept in unsanitary conditions and are often at risk for parvo, which is deadly if not treated immediately. The symptoms can come on fairly suddenly, and they may not have had visible signs before the flight.

    This is a HORRIBLE story and I’m not defending the airline. However, the deplorable conditions puppies are often raised in might be a factor. Add that into the lack of care they often seem to get from airlines and you are asking for tragedy.

  27. NotEd says:

    And this is why my dogs will never fly.

  28. sweaterhogans says:

    Why are airlines still incapable of transporting animals? I’ve been thinking about living abroad, but I can’t until my cats die. I cannot possibly risk this.

  29. smo0 says:

    I have to agree with some of the comments – while this is a bad mix of timing and place – this may not have anything to do with AA.

    Puppies, as with all newborn anythings, tend to get sick and be a sponge for bacteria. Flying/shipping or whatever, I think, could only open these guys to stuff they shouldn’t be exposed to.

    Sad story all around … I need to watch the video of the baby shiba inu’s now.

  30. zacwax says:

    It’s been 100+ in Tulsa these last couple of days. I imagine if they were in storage it was probably hotter and stuffier. Poor things probably died of heat exhaustion

  31. SilverBlade2k says:

    I smell a lawsuit..

  32. Rachacha says:
  33. MarvinMar says:

    Dead puppies arn’t much fun.

  34. Anaxamenes says:

    That seems like along flight for puppies to be without food and water. Not that AA isn’t responsible, but I’m not sure I would have chosen to fly puppies across the country with such a long layover. Puppies are fragile creatures, like human babies, their immune systems are not fully developed and they are less tolerant of hot and cold temperatures. I think this is a failure on AAs part to not allow puppies and a failure on the owners part for trying to take them on such a long flight at such a vulnerable age.

  35. chgoeditor says:

    It would appear that AA broke a couple of its own rules, assuming these puppies were shipped cargo.

    According to “Pets cannot be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4 degrees C) at any location on the itinerary.”

    If you look at the historic weather data for both Chicago & Tulsa, you’ll see that the temp at time of departure was approaching 85′ in Tulsa:

    Given that Tulsa’s average temp range for 8/3 is 73′-95′ and actual temp yesterday was 75-104′, I think it’s safe to say that the forecast temp in Tulsa would have exceeded 85′.

    Also from AA’s website, “Number of Pets Allowed: A maximum of two checked pets per passenger is allowed.” Were 7 people really accompanying these dogs?

  36. Dave says:

    American Airlines issued a press release today stating that their not-killed pet ratio has increased to 53%. Stockholders died with excitement over the news and shares were up $2 at end of trading today.

  37. JVMFan says:

    There is a tv host named Jane Velez Mitchell who is a huge animal activist. She has a show everyday on CNN Headline News and will be talking all about this story tonight–with good experts weighing in. The show is called issues, and usually has pretty good guests.