Man speaks after pet dies during flight
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A pet owner is furious after his dog died on a cross-country flight.
Michael Jarboe said the airline promised him his pet would be safe.
He spent almost every minute of the day with his 140-pound dog, Bam Bam. "He was such a good boy. We had zero problems, zero aggression, and zero dog problems. I mean everything was set," said Jarboe.
Jarboe said his nearly 3-year-old neopolitan mastiff had become a good traveler and would sometimes fly with him to California to see family.
They made the trip again in August as they had before on United Airlines from Miami to San Francisco with a stop in Houston.
United Airlines' website advertises its pet safe program, which promises personal handling in climate controlled vehicles during layovers, over 45 minutes, in temperatures over 85 degrees. "It was 95 degrees in Houston in the shade, so I don't even know what it was on the tarmac," said Jarboe.
Jarboe said a van picked up Bam Bam and brought him right to the plane, so he bought Bam Bam's $650 ticket and was confident he would be just fine. "We thought we did everything right," he said.
Just before takeoff in Huston, Jarboe said, he looked out his window and saw Bam Bam in his crate, on a luggage carrier that was not an air conditioned van. "It was right under the wing. We were right there, had a direct shot, he was so hot. His tongue was hanging down," said Jarboe. "Never, ever, have I ever seen him that hot. What United promised us is an air conditioned cargo facility and an air conditioned cargo van."
When Jarboe arrived at San Francisco he received horrible news. "The guy came out, a bunch of them and said, 'I'm sorry he didn't make it,' and it's so surreal. What do you mean? We just put him on, we put him on ... He was fine."
Bam Bam had died during the flight.
United Airlines paid for a necropsy and determined the dog died of a heart attack, but according to a letter to Jarboe, the airline took the position his death was not the result of transit-related handling.
Jarboe said an airline employee told him Bam Bam was never in the air-conditioned van during the nearly two-hour layover. "For layovers under four hours, they go in this holding area with a fan and a cross breeze," said Jarboe.
7News received a statement from United Airlines that read: "Given the size of Bam Bam and the fact that he is a brachycephalic, meaning short nosed breed, we made the decision to bring him to our holding facility for greater comfort during his connection. Our holding facilities are USDA animal welfare-approved and provide ample room and air ventilation in addition to regular monitoring and watering provided by trained pet safe personnel. We have refunded the full transport fare for the dog and are working with Mr. Jarboe on additional compensation."
It is unclear if the area was air conditioned.
Jarboe says he wishes he had known the van was not guaranteed and that someone had noticed Bam Bam was in distress. "You're thinking, is he sitting and waiting for me, like he waited for me at the kitchen door? Is it so hot that he's thinking in a minute he'll come, just sit and be a good boy," said Jarboe.
The airline has offered Jarboe travel vouchers, but he has not accepted. Jarboe said he wants the airline to be clearer with passengers about what to expect when they fly with their pets.
You can also go the Department of Transportation Air Consumer's website to check how many animal-related incidents happened on your airline of choice.
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