Second dog dies on United Airlines flight

For the second time in just a few months a dog has died on a United Airlines flight. Michale Jarboe was travelling from Miami to San Francisco with his two-year-old Neopolitan Mastiff Bam Bam. Jarboe says Bam Bam was in perfect health before the flight, but when he landed he was informed by United Airlines staff that Bam Bam had passed away during travel.


For the second time in just a few months a dog has died on a United Airlines flight. Michael Jarboe was travelling from Miami to San Francisco with his two-year-old Neopolitan Mastiff Bam Bam. Jarboe says Bam Bam was in perfect health before the flight, but when he landed he was informed by United Airlines staff that Bam Bam had passed away during travel.

United Airlines paid for an autopsy of Bam Bam, which found the cause of death to be a heart attack. The company maintains the death was not transit-related. Jarboe questioned several employees who informed him that Bam Bam was not in an air-conditioned room during the 2 hour layover the flight had in Houston. Jarboe had paid $650 for the transport of Bam Bam, which he had been led to believe included temperature control.

Jarboe saw Bam Bam on the tarmac in Houston.  “It was right under the wing. We were right there, had a direct shot, he was so hot. His tongue was hanging down.” Jarboe had never seen Bam Bam look that hot.

The airline stated, “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.” They stated their holding facilities are USDA animal-welfare approved. The airline refunded Jarboe the $650 for transporting Bam Bam and offered him additional compensation, but Jarboe refuses to accept the compensation.

Supermodel Maggie Rizer lost her golden retriever Beatrice on a United Airlines flight from New York to San Francisco only 2 months ago. Rizer had her own veterinarian perform an autopsy on Beatrice, revealing the cause of death to be heatstroke. United Airlines stands firm in that case that they kept the dog in a temperature-controlled environment for the entirety of the journey as well.

23 thoughts on “Second dog dies on United Airlines flight

  1. this is not the old Continental Airlines “Pet Safe” program. Definitely a shame. Sympathy to the Jarboe and Rizer families.

  2. Mr. Jarboe I am truly sorry for the loss of your family member. As I sit here bawling I cannot believe that an airline would’ve treated Bam Bam as anything less than human but here you have it. Thank you for sharing your story as hard as it is to talk about. Rest assured I will never take my babies on a an airplane! United Airlines cannot compensate for this kind of loss…shame on them.

  3. Mastiff’s are not brachycephalic, they do not have short noses. Just because they have a lot of jowl does not mean their nose is too short for breathing. That is just baloney! The poor baby got over heated and this has to stop! I have traveled with my dogs and many people who work for the airlines treat them like cargo. Unfortunately some people have no choice and must travel with their dogs by air. They pay the airline a lot of money to take good care of their dogs. There is no excuse for this. His death was as painful as being locked in a hot car!

    This incompetent treatment has to stop! They have to change how they handle dogs in flight. Most, if not all die from the extreme heat and this is completely preventable. My heart goes out to this family. I am so sorry they lost their beautiful, healthy boy. So heartbreaking.

    1. Neos ARE brachycephalic according to veterinarians and the AKC. It’s not about the outside of their head or how long their nose looks. It’s about the anatomy of the inside. They are a large breed brachycephalic. That said, they are prone to heatstroke. As far as I’m concerned, it’s irresponsible for an owner to “check” their pet as baggage…because that’s essentially what they are doing. If you won’t leave your pet in a hot car, don’t leave your pet on a hot tarmack. Ground temps are often much higher than air temps, and if you want to travel with your large dog, suck it up and drive.

      1. Yep, I was thinking exactly the same thing. It doesnt take a genius to understand that an extremely hot day is a day for dogs not to be outside for any length of time. This year was particularly warm. I sent my dogs outside for potty breaks for 15 minutes and I thought they were going to faint. back in the AC for my pooches.

        I have 2 1/2 acres fenced with lots of trees, and they were still hot. It doesnt take a lot to figure out that sitting on blacktop in 90+ degree weather cannot be healthy.

      2. Your position of blaming the owners for the fault of the airline is not only shortsighted but it does not bring about change.

        It is astounding to me that your response is so critical of the owner yet you have no criticism for the airline. Why shouldn’t people traveling with their animals expect excellent care from the airline offering this service? I can assure you that people who must transport their pets by air would pay whatever amount necessary to insure the safety of their four-legged family member. Your position is as illogical as holding owners accountable for selecting a veterinarian that provides inferior care to their pet. Perhaps we should also blame people who unknowingly feed their pets contaminated pet food that manufacturers refuse to pull from store shelves. Sounds unjustified doesn’t it? So why is it any different that we should expect those providing a service or product and who willingly accept our money, not be held accountable when they not only fail in this effort but they cause the death of the animal?

        Shouldn’t airlines be forced to change and improve the quality of their service to ensure safe travel? Isn’t this what we should be working toward rather than attacking pet owners by proclaiming “As far as I’m concerned, it’s irresponsible for an owner to “check” their pet as baggage…”

        1. It’s also incorrect. I didn’t “check him” or “leave him on the tarmac.” United Pets Safe program guarantees A/C at all time, from the moment you leave them in the air conditioned cargo with supervision, picked up in the Pet Safe’s Van equipped with a/c and taken to AND from the air plane and returned to the air conditioned cargo area. THE reason for using Pet Safe is their program that your pet will never be in the heat. That IS the program. They let me down 100% on that in Houston. No vans, left outside, then inside in a “holding area” with nothing but a breeze from outside and some fans, on a day in the high 90’s.

          As someone has already mentioned, no other airline would have allowed him to fly because of the heat because they DO load with baggage carts with the luggage. ONLY Pet Safe flies because of their program. It’s why I chose United with a layover over another airline with a direct flight. So there was NEVER a risk of him being on, near or around the tarmac.

          Then they did everything they promised they wouldn’t do. And now are lying about it. I did everything right. It seems there is NO way to trust any of the airlines with our pets safety. One pet dies every nine days according to the department of transportation. Not one animal, one PET. The numbers of animals is staggering.

          1. Anonymous? If you are Bam Bam’s owner, I want you to know I am so incredibly sad that you lost your beautiful boy. Please know there are some of us who don’t wish to pass judgement but rather to let you know how sorry we are for your loss. I can only imagine you heartache is as strong as mine was 6 weeks ago when I lost my beautiful 2 year old boy from an unexpected and aggressive kidney cancer that stole him away from us in just two short weeks. My heart aches for him every day.

            There was NO excuse for what happened to Bam Bam and for that reason ALL dog owners and lovers should be compelled to demand more for those whom we have entrusted the care of our most beloved canine family members.

  4. The hold of an airplane is no place for a dog, ANY dog. There is no way in hell I would ever put one of my pets in the hands of any airline. If you can’t drive w/your pets, leave them home. Sorry to be so harsh, but I don’t believe most people understand what it’s like in the hold, REGARDLESS of what the airline says. The airline is in the business for one reason only – to make as much profit as possible. If they lose the occasional animal, oh well.

  5. So sad. I work for Delta Air Lines and we have strict rules to keep pets safe. We do not accept pets at all as checked luggage (not in cabin) from May 15- Sept. 15 to prevent the possibility of heat stroke. All other times, we are to check temperature for every destination the pet will travel and make sure there are no extreme temperatures – hot or cold. Sometimes we have to decline pet travel but owners understand. Hopefully other airlines will become as vigilant.

  6. Plain and simple, if your organization has had two pet deaths in the past 2 months, you need to do something to show you are stepping up the monitering and control of animal passengers. I travel frequently, and I refuse to support United Airlines until they properly address the issue and demonstrate improved conditions and standards.

  7. Dogs are NOT CARGO!! I look forward to the day when dogs are treated with enough respect to let them travel with their people IN the cabin. Until then, I will never travel by plane. If you can buy a seat for your child, I should be able to buy a seat for my companion. Children are far more likely to spread germs and cause infections (and stress). Why not put kids in cargo? Pretty ridiculous, right? There’s no valid excuse for this horror.

  8. Yep. This is really too bad because many airlines DO take exceptional care of pets. If United has any brains at all or care about their failing reputation they will admit some wrongdoing, take their medicine and CHANGE WHATEVER IS KILLING DOGS!!!

  9. I cannot believe this has happened to this fablous dog. All dogs should be treated like people., and we should beable to buy a seat for an animal. We buy a seat for a out of control child , why not well behaved animal..I would much prefer to sit next to the animal.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss- years ago when I raised Dobermans I remember them unloading from a train a 9 week old puppy and putting his crate under an air compressor which came on very loud many times while he was under there- the buyers were thank goodness ,good compashionate people who were willing to work with his fears until they dissolved but it took time for him to not be afraid of loud noises.

  11. Come on people! “I’m sorry, I will never fly with my pet. I will just leave them home.” What if your husband and your family has been serving your country overseas, and now it’s time to move back home?? I guess I should have just left my dog there, then get criticized for breaking a promise of a “forever home” to my dog. Sometimes you MUST bring a dog on an airplane. And there is no reason why a dog shouldn’t ride on an airplane without fucking dying. If they can’t provide safe conditions for pets, then they shouldn’t allow pets to ride. But nooo $650 x the millions of pets that fly, that’s way too much money to pass up! This is no one’s fault but the lazy heartless airlines that aren’t keeping these conditions safe for our pets!!

  12. my son worked for delta for 15 years and he would tell us stories of how the animals were left on the ramp or hot cargo area and how he and other ramp employees would do all they could in there position to help them by giving them water moving them to a cooler spot but they were hampered by what there supervisors/management would let them do. i would drive my dogs as far as it would take before i ever shipped them on a plane

  13. The first time we shipped our dogs, I was a nervous wreck. They are my babies, after all! 😉 We were flying US->UK for a job transfer. We flew Virgin and they could not have been more wonderful! When we dropped the dogs off at cargo, the folks were great and let us know what was going to happen with them etc. We weren’t allowed to fly out of Florida because it was summer so we had driven to DC to fly out. Unfortunately, there was a heat wave and it was actually hotter in DC than in Florida! Anyway, fast forward a couple of hours and we were in the terminal waiting for boarding to begin. And then we see the cargo guy coming towards us. Our heart sank thinking that something bad had happened. But it hadn’t. In fact, he was coming to point out a van sitting next to the plan. Inside were our beloved dogs in the cool air conditioning. He also let us know that the pilot had been alerted that there was pet cargo and had already turned on the climate control so that it wouldn’t be too hot when they put the dogs in the plane. He didn’t have to do that, but it certainly made us feel better about the entire experience. And so when the time came to make the move back to the US, we flew Virgin. I don’t work for them nor am I affliliated in any way, but I always tell this story because good work should be rewarded. I couldn’t recommend them more highly.

  14. Never would I put my pet on a flight from a place as hot as Miami, traveling through the heat waves of TX to get to CA for my convenience. I would drive my beloved pets rather than risk their lives that way.

  15. OMG! I need to travel from San Jose, Ca. to Newark, N.J. in January. I desperately want
    to take my newly rescued (5 months ago) terrier-mix with me. At 15 lbs she is too big to fit under the seat which is how I wanted to take her. After reading all these comments I have definitely decided to stick with my promise to myself to NEVER ship a dog of mine in the baggage area of a plane. I was considering it because to drive cross country in the middle of winter is nuts–but nuts it is. I’m driving.

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