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United Airlines KILLED my 2.5 year old Mastiff, BamBam


On Aug, 28th, ‘12, on a flight from Miami to San Francisco, United airlines killed my 2.5 year old Mastiff, BamBam. United’s “Pet Safe” program guarantees that your pet will be in an acclimated, a/c equipped cargo facility or Pet Safe van to and from the plane. All other airlines require a Certificate of Acclimation to fly, only United does not because of Pet Safe. On the day we flew, no other airline would have allowed us to fly because of the extreme temperatures in Miami AND in Houston, only United because of their program and their guarantee that pets remain in an air conditioned environment at all times. Cargo facilities, vans to and from the plane, the cargo hold. They broke every promise they made to us. 

We had a 3+ hour layover in Houston. Again, we could have flown an airline with a direct flight, but none of them offer the security, or guarantee of constant a/c that United offers. This is of paramount importance for a giant breed such as a Neapolitan Mastiff. After being seated in Houston for the San Francisco leg of our journey, watching out the window for the Pet Safe van, BamBam arrived on an metal closed sided luggage cart, not a van, looking hotter than we had ever seen him. My boy who was used to Miami temperatures. It was 97 in Houston on the tarmac that day. Outraged at the lack of a van and how hot he looked, but assuming he would cool down once inside the plane, and the airplane doors already locked, we watched them load him and we took off to San Francisco. Never, not once did it occur to me that he had been in that condition for close to four hours, since we landed in Houston.

BamBam was dead on arrival. My beautiful baby boy. We were told he must be sent back to Houston for an autopsy, and so began four dreadful weeks of corporate America denying responsibility, non information, ridiculous necropsy interpretations and insulting offers. Eventually United offered us a return of his flight costs, the cost of his necropsy/cremation and travel vouchers.

We have since found out from United employees that at no time in Houston was BamBam ever in a/c. He was removed from the plane, set under the wing on the tarmac until a luggage cart came for him. He was then transferred to a “USDA approved holding area with a cross breeze from open windows and fans” instead of the cargo area with a/c as promised. We have now been told in layovers of under 4 hours, NO animal is taken into the cargo area, only the “holding area.” Something we had never been told or accepted. No van would have been unacceptable, but no cargo area at the hight of summer? Outrageous. After 2+ hours he was put back onto a luggage cart and kept outside for another 40 minutes to travel 4 gates…until we saw him. 

He never had a chance. We have now learned that every 9 days a pet dies on a commercial airline. Yet the airline industry holds all the cards. Almost zero regulation, accountability or informing of the public of the actual dangers of airline flight, even though his one way ticket was double my round trip. The airline and law consider him “luggage” and my recourse has been exactly that. In fact, only “pet” deaths are reported, not the hundreds of deaths of commercial animals, breeding pets, livestock, exotics, primates, etc. How can the public not be informed of this? 

Unless you are prepared to take the exact same chance with your pet as with your bag, do not fly your pet on a commercial airline. The last words to me beautiful baby boy as I loaded him in the crate at the United cargo terminal, were,…

“Be a good boy, I’ll be back for you, I promise.” For 4 hours in a heat wave, as his body was closing down, as United’s “trained” personnel walked by and ignored his distress, is this what went through his mind? If he was just a good boy I’d be back for him.

United broke every single promise they made to us. They killed my baby boy and tried to buy me off with travel vouchers and a complete denial of any responsibility on their part.

Sign the petition below to have PetSafe Program policies changed to protect the animal and owner. This has happened to MANY pets. Something needs to be changed! Just because this story is a year old doesn’t mean it’s no longer important. 


5504 notes / 3 years 4 months ago
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