Two dog owners from different parts of the country have spoken out against United Airlines this week, telling news outlets that the airline broke its promises of pet safety while they took cross-country flights with their dogs in cargo. Both dogs were young: a golden retriever and a Neapolitan Mastiff, each only two years old.
The 140-pound Mastiff traveled from Miami to San Francisco via Houston in August. The owner had made the trip with his pet before with no problems, but on an 85 degree day in Houston, he was horrified to see that Bam Bam the dog was transported to the plane in his carrier after their layover in a luggage cart, not an air-conditioned van as promised. When the plane landed in California, the dog was dead. A necropsy showed that he died of a heart attack, which United claims was not related to travel. In a statement, United pointed out that Mastiffs are a flat-nosed or brachycephalic breed, and that they took precautions to make sure he stayed cool in the airline’s cargo facility during the layover. “Never, ever, have I ever seen him that hot,” the dog’s owner told a Miami TV station. “What United promised us is an air conditioned cargo facility and an air conditioned cargo van.”
On another flight to San Francisco, this one from New York City, former supermodel Maggie Rizer was bringing her family’s two golden retrievers home from an East Coast vacation earlier this month. Two-year-old Bea didn’t survive the trip, and Rizer told the New York Daily News that United staff lied about taking her pet for a necropsy. A necropsy performed by the family vet showed that the animal died of heatstroke.
Neither owner wants compensation. They want the airlines to treat animals better, or be clearer with passengers about the risks of bringing their pets along.