Dog That Escaped From Delta Flight Found Dead

Right before Christmas, we brought you the story of a dog that had escaped from its crate while being transferred between two Delta flights in Atlanta. Unfortunately, news reports say the dog was discovered dead near a highway over the weekend.

CBS Atlanta reports that Nala, the German shepherd that was en route from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany, when she went missing, was found dead along I-75 on Saturday.

In her original message to Consumerist, the dog’s owner wrote:

[A]bout ten minutes before the dogs were to be boarded on the flight to Frankfurt, I got a call that Nala was trying to get out of her kennel so they wanted her to spend the night at the dog kennel and they would put her on the flight the next day. They also said she needed a larger kennel. I said fine. It was now December 22 and I did not hear from anyone so I assumed everything was going as planned. I called the international cargo desk about an hour before take-off to confirm that both dogs were boarded. I was transferred to a man who told me that Nala had escaped from the kennel and ran off like a bullet and they were looking for her. He said he did not have my phone number to call and tell me this. I was in shock and didn’t ask any details and hung up.

Delta had put up a $1,000 reward for Nala, and now says it will be making a $1,000 donation to an Atlanta based animal rescue group.

Army Officer’s Dog Missing From Airport Found Dead [CBS Atlanta]


Edit Your Comment

  1. RubyRedJess says:

    Poor thing.

  2. Hanshiro says:

    An autopsy should determine the real cause of death.

  3. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Once again, there are few worse ideas you could have than deciding to transport your dog on a regular commercial flight. Only do this to animals that you really don’t care to see again.

    On the other hand, I hope this woman sues Delta into poverty. I am sure there are Ts & Cs in place that will prevent her from doing much of anything…but I’d be perfectly happy to see an air carrier go under because of this sort of thing.

    • tvh2k says:

      IANAL, but I think the owners would have to prove negligence. Who’s to say that Ms. Miller didn’t fail to properly secure the crate prior to checking the animal?

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        They let the animal out.

        • coren says:

          And now I’m tempted to make references to a song that was (unfathomably) popular, as originally performed by the Baha Men. But I won’t (well, other than this comment)

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        It appears from the post that Delta had changed the kennel on their own…

        But either way, at the point that you transfer the animal to the carrier’s control, there’s a carrier representative there who accepts the animal and it’s kennel…and it would be incumbent upon that agent of the carrier to ensure that the animal and kennel were fit for transport.

    • pop top says:

      What would you recommend to people who are traveling to somewhere where driving there is not an option AND they want to bring their pets along? You can say “well just don’t bring your pets”, but that’s not a valid option for many and people shouldn’t be encouraged to just ditch their pets at the drop of a hat.

      • TriplerSDMB says:

        When someone charges for a service they must follow through w/ that service. This wasn’t the owner’s fault for engaging a service Delta offered.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        The options are blindingly obvious…if you actually care about your pet:

        1. Pay for transport on a proper pet-carrying carrier.
        2. Give your pet to someone else, either temporarily or permanently.

        Can’t afford to pay for the specialized carrier? #2 works every time. “But I want my pet with me!” Sure you do…but are you going to be so selfish in that desire as to risk the health and very life of your pet?

        If you put your pet on a regular commercial flight, you may as well be playing Russian roulette with it.

        • Cyclone says:

          You should really do some research or STFU.

          Reading up on some pet transportation services, they ship animals via cargo the same exact way that the person in the story used. How do you think animals are shipped professionally? Do you think there is a special airline service just for shipping dogs? Because there isn’t.

    • Brink006 says:

      That’s a completely reasonable and measured response. Congratulations to you!

    • Erich says:

      Have you ever tried driving from Virginia to Germany? It’s a long-ass drive, dude! plus there’s that whole ATLANTIC OCEAN in the way…

    • VA_White says:

      The options when you get orders overseas are:
      1) give away your pets or have them euthanized or open the door and let them run free (which happens more often than you’d think)
      2) book them on a commercial flight
      3) pay someone a huge sum of money to swim across the Atlantic with your pet strapped to his back

      What would you have military personnel do with their pets when they get orders overseas? I’m not rocket surgeon but option 2 seems best for all the pets and the people involved.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        People who let their pets “free” when they leave are worse than people who leave their pets with a shelter. Domesticated animals are ill-equipped to survive in the wild.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          right, for the lucky pets, this ends with rescues like the one i am with trying to capture ill or injured animals, healing them up if possible and then they spend months in cages at adoption centers and events as we try to find them new homes.

      • jbandsma says:

        My best friend asked me to care for her dog and 2 cats while they were stationed overseas for 2 years. She was leery of taking them with her (for good reason, it seems).

        Yes, my family got attached to them but the animals remembered their original family and it was joyful when they got back together.

      • Charmander says:

        Geez, I think you forgot “find them a new home” as one of the options.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Or pay to have them transported via a proper pet-carrying carrier. Otherwise, finding them a new (temporary or permanent) home is the only reasonable option.

    • sonneillon says:

      Unfortunately for the owners the judge has a lot of leeway with determining how much the dog is worth. The judge could say that the dog is property and is only worth what the owners paid for it minus depreciation on one end, or the dog is a member of the family and should be paid what would happen if they had negligently killed a family member.

    • stoneburner says:

      Delta has assets over 43 billion dollars. No lawsuit over a dog is going to drive them under. Furthermore, it’s pretty disgusting to think that you’d like to see a company that employs thousands of people go out of business because a single on of their employees let a dog escape from a kennel. You seriously need to get your priorities straight. It sucks the dog died, but Delta should go out of business because of it? I can only hope you’re making a very poor attempt at hyperbole.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Right. Because airlines that go bankrupt just fire everyone, throw their planes in the trash, and call it a day.

        What happens is they go into some form of bankruptcy protection with some kind of plan with their creditors, and to the general public life goes on as normal. That’s only happened like a bajillion times.

      • YokoOhNo says:

        “What about the children, I mean, Corporations?! We have to protect the corporations!”

    • common_sense84 says:

      She cannot sue for more than the cost of the dog. Legally, a dog is property. Nothing more, nothing less.

      Next time she should pay for a direct flight. As it sounds ridiculous to ship a dog across multiple flights without you even being there.

      • clickable says:

        There are no direct flights between San Diego and Frankfurt. There are no nonstops and it looks like all the itineries offered are for connecting flights, with a change of planes at the intermediate stop. You can go through Phoenix, Atlanta, maybe a couple of other cities, but no direct flights. All the combinations require a change of planes.

        Also, it’s possible that because her flight is being paid for by the military, they may require that she use only American carriers, which makes it even harder to schedule.

  4. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Uh huh. A thousand dollars to an animal rescue group, right. And what are they doing for the dog’s owners, besides a ticket coupon (that they issue routinely for delayed flights), and a refund of the cargo fees? Disclaiming responsibility? Seriously, it’s a slap in the face that Delta’s giving the animal rescue group more than they’re giving the injured party, when you take their costs into account.

    • NumberSix says:

      No doubt. Those dogs are not cheap if you buy one from a breeder. You might be able to get a 3-legged one for $1000.

      • Megalomania says:

        That’s about 2/3 of what I see most pet stores asking for purebred german shepherds, so maybe one with three legs and a stump for a tail.

        • jason in boston says:

          Even $2000 for a proper GSD is considered a steal. I fear of the Quality Control that a pet shop has.

    • q`Tzal says:

      If Delta offered her a settlement to keep her from suing odds are it has a non-disclosure agreement.
      We will hear nothing of Delta admitting any blame nor of the dog’s owner talking of the subject on the public record.

  5. SonarTech52 says:

    Wow, that really sucks.

  6. MerlynNY says:

    That is so very sad. That dog when from being in a home, to lost and afraid, and ultimately dead. It’s nice that Delta is donating money to a rescue group, but it should also be doing something for the owner. That’s horrible news.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    The animal apparently wanted to be taken out of the kennel, and they thought it was a good idea? Of course the animal will run, if it’s being ansy about being in there.

    • ConsumerA says:

      According to the linked story, the dog broke out of its kennel (and wasn’t let out).

      My dog broke out of his kennel (and destroyed it in the process). Luckily the kennel was in the house and he greeted me at the door when I returned home.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Both, apparently. The run-away moment she broke out, but they did transfer her at one point prior. So I was a bit mistaken on the specifics.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Hm, I retract my previous comment, then. That dog must have been very strong.

      • pop top says:

        The dog broke out of a kennel that Delta provided, not the owner.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Which most definitely puts the blame square on Delta.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah, Delta should have never allowed the dog to leave the kennel until it was in a secure area (i.e. indoors). A dog can’t run away if it doesn’t have anywhere to run.

  8. sufreak says:

    Heartbreaking. And honestly, only a pet owner could truly understand.

  9. Rebecca K-S says:

    There’s nothing about this that doesn’t suck, and nothing Delta will do will help. I can only hope that they do everything in their power to make sure nothing like this happens again.

    I feel so awful for the owners.

    • common_sense84 says:

      The only real solution is to stop accepting dogs for travel.

      But my guess is they will compromise and refuse to accept dogs over a certain weight. Since larger dogs will have more problems being locked up and will obviously be strong enough to break free.

      In the end, what kind of person puts a large dog in a box and ships it via multiple connecting flights on it’s own? Personally responsibility as a dog owner comes into play here.

  10. Red Cat Linux says:

    So sad – horrible for the dog’s family who loved her enough to ship her across the ocean. So many families give up their pets when going overseas. I have only traveled by car with my dog. Sufficiently frightened and loose, he would not be returning to anyone who didn’t have a frisbee tied to a steak and garnished with popcorn. And that might be iffy. The airport noises alone would freak him out, much less being on the plane.

    And what’s up with the “crate too small” stuff? Why was it big enough in the first leg of the flight, but not the second? Why would they do this at all, when frightened animals can and do do just about anything?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The only reason I could think of that Delta would say the crate was too small was because the dog was anxious, and sometimes that happens when you’re in a small space for a while. It happens to people, why not dogs?

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        Mmmhm. I thought the whole concept of crating dogs was that they would feel more secure in a smaller more enclosed area. At least that’s what everyone says – the crate should be large enough for the dog to turn around in and lay down, but no larger than that.

        I can see a dog who is unfamiliar with crating going bazoink however. My dog hasn’t been crated since he was two. I don’t know how comforting he might find it 10 years later.

        • pop top says:

          You’re right. Crating is good for dogs when done on a consistent basis and anyone who is going to be transporting their pets in a carrier should definitely get them used to it so they don’t get distraught.

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      It’s my understanding that they gauge how big the carrier is by whether or not the animal can “comfortably turn around in it”. I ran into this when I was taking my cat with me when I moved cross country. They wanted to see her get up and turn around. Seeing as she was sedated with kitty xanax, there was no way she’d be doing that. She was pretty much knocked out for the duration of the flight. I wished the attendant at the ticket counter luck if he wanted to try and wake up my cat. They let it go. Add to that she was in a Sherpa bag that was easily twice her size, and it was fairly obvious it was much bigger than what she needed.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      Yet my confusion still stems from the crate being big enough to get the dog partway there, but not the rest of the way. An inexperienced animal handler (if the person handling the crate exchange was even that) without the owner present, and a dog surrounded by unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells just seems like a recipe for disaster.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        There might be different standards for an overseas flight? That is my only guess, but the owner sounds like someone who would have researched such things.

  11. KatieNeptune says:

    So sorry for your loss, OP :(

  12. thelion says:

    That poor dog must have been so frightened.

  13. anime_runs_my_life says:

    My heart goes out to the OP. It doesn’t matter how you lose a pet, the loss of a pet is devastating. You can’t put a price on a loss of a pet, even when it’s due to the negligence of another party. I honestly believe Delta needs to bear some sort of responsibility on this

  14. Bohemian says:

    The airlines should change how they handle animals. This is not the first time a dog has gotten out and run loose. Kennels need to be secured in either an indoor room with doors or a gated pen with 6ft chain link. Transferring a dog out of a kennel for any reason is just asking it to escape. You have to open the door to put a leash on and they can easily bolt out of fear.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      My old dogs, including a chihuahua/dachsund mix, sneered at 6-foot fences; make it something like 12 ft, and you might keep them in, so long as the bottom was secured too. Too many of those can just be rolled under with a bit of dedicated shoving.

  15. dolemite says:

    I’d sue the hell out of them if that were my dog.

  16. flip says:

    1,000 dollars. THats all a dog’s life is worth to Delta?

  17. Aennan says:

    I-75 is near but not close to the airport (not like I-85 and I-285 which kind of border the airport area). I have to wonder why the dog was found there.

    • Chaosium says:

      That’s where they dumped it, I imagine.

    • LastError says:

      You need to look at a map.

      East side of the airport, right off the end of the runways between Henry Ford II Blvd where the old Ford plant used to be and south down to where 75 crosses 285. Between those points, there is nothing between the airport and I-75 but a rickety fence, then Loop road and some small brush. Loop road runs 50MPH there.

      There are eight ramps (four HOV, four regular) down to 75 at Aviation Blvd, plus ramps from Loop road out to 285. It’s also possible to get out to 75 and the very southern end of the old Ford site.

      The Delta Tech Ops and freight terminals back right up to loop road so it would be a quick run for a dog out to the high way.

  18. papastevez says:

    I got my dog from the side of I-75. He is the most loving creature I have ever encountered. I truly feel sorry for the OP. That must be a heart crushing loss.

  19. coren says:

    Not totally related, but did anyone ever find Paco? :(

  20. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    I can’t bring myself to read any of the comments. To the Owner: I’m sorry for your loss.
    To Delta: If you can’t properly transport animals, stop offering the service, you bastards.

  21. CalicoGal says:

    Oh no I am so sorry.

    Just goes to show how you cannot trust strangers with your loved ones. So unfortunate.

  22. RogueWarrior65 says:

    IMHO, you should be allowed to handle your dog during a transfer. Nobody would think twice about letting a child loose in an airport to find his/her connection.

    • dolemite says:

      “Well, the kid cried that she wanted to get down, and we let her down…then she ran off…no clue where. I’m sure she’ll turn up.”

      “This just in: 4 year old found dead by the highway.”

      “Don’t worry, we are making a $1,000 donation to the local orphanage. That should take care of it.”

  23. tape says:

    how about a $10,000 “donation” to the dog’s owners for KILLING THEIR DOG.

  24. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Poor little doggie. :'(

  25. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    How does a dog escape from a fenced and secure terrorist proof airport? The same way that poor Charlotte kid got in and into a 737 wheel well?

  26. I just blue myself says:

    My heart goes out to the OP. I was hoping for a happy ending.

  27. Sky75 says:

    That’s tragic….I have to go & hug my dogs now. So sorry for the OP.

  28. SnoopyFish says:

    This is so fucking sad. Can you imagine how the dog felt in his last moments alive? Escaping a very scary environment and frantically looking for their master only to be hit by a car and die alone on the side of the interstate. I just get all choked up when I imagine that happening to my dog. I feel soo sorry for the owner.

  29. Britt says:


  30. suez says:

    I still don’t understand how the dog got off the airport grounds once he escaped the kennel. Don’t they have high fenses to keep people and animals OUT??

    • LastError says:

      The fences on the I-75 side have gaps, especially under the fences. Big enough for a dog to get out especially if the dog can dig a little. There are also lots of gates where different service vehicles come and go all over the airport.

      The I-75 side also has a lot of construction going on so there are big areas that have no fence most of the time because access is controlled by security check-points when workers are present -and right now, they are working almost non-stop to build a new terminal. The check points will keep out people and cars -but would not keep in a dog.

  31. Zclyh3 says:

    Charge Delta for criminal negligence.

  32. dush says:

    Maybe they should give that $1000 to the passenger who’s dog they let escape and die instead.

  33. JustaMe says:

    I don’t think its smart or responsible to use commercial flights to transport animals that you care for. The experience is horrific. At minimum, airlines should require that animals are sedated prior to the horrific experience. Pet owners should want to sedate their animals. They already subjecting them to these conditions, the least they can do it make it less terrible. But when transporting animals over seas, use a pet only airline who specializes in this. If you love your animal so dearly, spend the extra bucks to transport them right.

  34. caninecrusader says:

    Delta and the city of atlanta(operators of hartsfield), are not the most animal friendly duo. remember, this was mike vick’s home! Delta would not allow the owner(who flew in to find her dog, on her own dime!), to use airport property to look for nala. Also, would not allow her or rescue groups to set up traps. Does that sound like Delta “cooperated” in finding her beloved dog?

  35. common_sense84 says:

    “Delta had put up a $1,000 reward for Nala, and now says it will be making a $1,000 donation to an Atlanta based animal rescue group.”

    So they are going to pay the owner 10 grand? Donations to animal rescue does nothing to help the owner. And such a donation is quite insulting.

  36. LastError says:

    I work near this airport. Went out Sunday looking for the dog, but I did not know they had already found the poor thing.

    It was right near my office apparently.

    It’s a big area with freeways everywhere. Animals stand little to no chance of making it out of the airport alive.

  37. profmonster says:

    I’m so sorry, OP. That is terrible terrible news. Poor Nala.

    Delta should be sued. Some cynical commenters wondered if the kennel story was a cover because they had already lost the dog. They really should stop transporting animals; they clearly can’t ensure the animals’ safety.

    @LastError, that’s so nice of you to go and look.

    • Midnight Harley says:

      God damn Delta, you people really suck. I’m not bringing my pet with me on a flight unless it is sitting next to me or if I have my own private jet.

    • LastError says:

      I care very much for animals, dead or alive. Last week, I picked up a kitten out of my parking lot at work. Unfortunately, I was too late. But I took her home, gave her a name, and laid her to rest under a tree she might have liked to climb. Before that, a couple weeks ago, you would have seen me in an orange vest on the side of 75 picking up a different dead cat, at least to get it out of the road.

      There are all kinds of animals near the airport, cats, ALL of them hungry and scared. It’s not a friendly place to be.

  38. greyfots says:

    So there is some actual proof that it was found in the highway?
    or is it just deltas story?

  39. GTI2.0 says:

    I get everyone’s reactions here, I really do, but please – realize that there are tens of thousands of pets shipped a day via commercial airliners and they rarely end in disaster.

    Continental’s PetSafe people have shipped my 2 cats and 1 dog twice now coast to coast (US) without a single incident. I’ve actually been very impressed with the professionalism of the team that works for them and my pets don’t seem any worse for the wear. I’m sure mistakes, accidents, and even negligence happen, but I really doubt it’s the norm.

  40. Invader Zim says:

    Well at least there is some closure…not the kind anyboby would want but closure nonetheless.