When Janet Sinclair moved from San Diego to Boston with her Greyhound, Sedona, and her cat, Alika, she chose United Airlines' PetSafe program because of their amenities and good track record. PetSafe advertises that four-legged passengers will receive personal handling in climate-controlled vehicles, a necessity for travel in July. Janet also paid extra for a comfort stop at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, a layover almost killed her pets.
According to Janet, as she sat in her window seat looking out onto the tarmac, she saw a cargo employee kick Sedona's crate six times to shove it under the shade of the plane's wing. According to the National Weather Service, the high in Houston that day was 94 degrees and her pets were left outside, without the temperature-controlled vehicle that was promised. Urged by a fellow passenger, Janet began videoing the events on her cell phone.
By the time they got to Boston, Sedona was barely alive. The poor pup required three days in intensive care for heat stroke, a urinary tract infection, and liver problems.The vet believes that the medical conditions were due to hyperthermia suffered during the flight and not due to underlying disease. This is contrary to United Airlines' claim that Sedona had a pre-existing health condition, despite the fact that both of Janet's pets received a clean bill of health from their vet in San Diego prior to their departure.
United Airlines agreed to reimburse Janet's vet fees, but only if she remained silent and signed a nondisclosure agreement. Janet refused and has since been on a mission to spread the word about the ordeal through the Facebook page, United Airlines Almost Killed My Greyhound.
By law airlines must report when a pet is hurt, gets lost, or dies on a trip within 45 days of the incident. As of November, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has no record of Sedona's injuries.
When NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit looked into the case, they uncovered more than 300 pets that have died, been injured, or been lost in the care of airlines over the last year. This number is significantly less than what has been reported by the DOT.
This means that airlines are covering up incidents affecting our pets. Having used this data to identify the "safer" airlines, it's horrifying and unacceptable that the data is inaccurate. Under reporting will also affect future regulations if politicians can't see the full picture.
I think we owe it to all of the pets missing from the DOT statistics to spread the word and hopefully one day improve flight conditions for our pups.