An eight-year-old Pomeranian is the latest PR disaster in the air travel industry after the small pup named Alejandro was found to have died during a passenger flight. Alejandro was being transported via his carrier and was discovered to have died while in a cargo facility at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
On May 30th, the small Pomeranian was en route to Newark from Phoenix and passed away during a layover in Michigan. His owner, Michael Dellegrazie, spoke with WDIV-TV and recounted the brief timeline. “When we landed her in Michigan, he was alive at 6:30 a.m., and then at 8:20, he wasn’t moving,” Dellegrazie explains. “We lost a family member.”
Delta released a statement after the incident, stating it was “conducting a thorough review of the situation to find out more about why this may have occurred to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” The biggest concern, however, is that the death of Alejandro wasn’t an isolated incident.
The Washington Post reported that, in 2017, 24 animals died in transit, though only two occurred on a Delta flight. From 2015 to 2017, Delta reported 18 animal deaths in total, a relatively small number compared to United Airlines’ 41 reported deaths.
The mystery behind the death of Alejandro is what could have possibly happened within the two hours that Dellegrazie checked on his dog. Making matters worse is that Dellegrazie states blood was discovered on Alejandro’s blanket, suggesting foul play. Delta confirmed that a flight attendant checked on the dog about a half-hour before Dellegrazie only to return two-hours-later to a deceased Pomeranian.
While it sounds like something sinister could have unfolded and it’s easy to blame the airline, Twitter user Martin (@dummokratie) turns it back on Alejandro’s owners, stating “If you love and respect your dog you do not send it as air-cargo.”
1. Living beings will die!— Martin (@Dummokratie) June 3, 2018
2. If you love and respect your dog you do not send it as air-cargo - alone in a cage, darkness, cold, noise - without company...
Easy to blame the airline in the end...
Another user, Padj (@tqlmrtnbrd), kind of echoes Martin’s statements, explaining that “it’s really dangerous to fly with your dogs, guys. It’s very stressful for your pet and crews are not equipped to monitor your pet at all times.”
It’s really dangerous to fly with your dogs, guys. It’s very stressful for your pet and crews are not equipped to monitor your pet at all times. You fly with your animal at your own risk, it is not a car ride.— padj (@tqlmrtnbrd) June 3, 2018
It’s a sentiment that others agreed with. In fact, as much as you’d expect the backlash to fall primarily on the airline, that wasn’t so much the case. The story of Alejandro is coming across as more of a cautionary tale for future air travelers.
I don't understand why small dogs are sent via cargo. Pay for a ticket for them and put them under the seat in front of you. I would be arrested if they told me to put them in over head or some BS like that. I have always traveled with dogs in the cabin.— I make no excuses (@Magsy117) June 3, 2018
Pet owners need to do research about the stresses and dangers of flying pets in cargo. The ultimate responsibility is with the owners to keep their pets safe.— The member formerly known as missi r (@MissikRice) June 3, 2018
We sew this story again and again and again. DONT PUT A LIVING ANIMAL IN THE CARGO HOLD. DON'T FLY WITH PETS! Just don't do it.— Umbrella Operative ✝ 🇺🇸 🎮 (@ExMachina267) June 3, 2018
That doesn’t mean Delta is off the hook, however.
I will be argumentative. flying with animals is extremely commonplace and the burden is 100% on the airline to provide safe passage. get fucked if you think this is the owners' fault except in the case that it was unfit to fly for health reasons.— Adam (@cajuncooks) June 3, 2018
I’m so sick of stories like this. Animals are sentient beings, they are also family. Family should not fly cargo. Air carriers need to wake the fuck up. High time for enlightened, progressive animal friendly airlines to answer the call 🐾 there’s even a market fer crisakes!!— Dava She Wolf (@davashewolf) June 4, 2018