Second dog dies on United Airlines flight

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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.

    • 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.

      • 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…”

        • 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.

          • 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.


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