A woman has blamed Qantas for the death of her beloved dog on a flight to Brisbane, just days before another dog died on a domestic flight with the same airline.
Kay Newman said her boxer Duke died after being left for more than an hour in extreme heat on the tarmac at Sydney Airport on December 19.
Duke’s death happened days before Sydney man Anthony Balletta’s bulldog was found dead in his crate at Melbourne Airport after arriving on a Qantas flight.
In a Facebook post, Ms Newman said she was concerned about flying Duke, her dog of nearly seven years, as temperatures on December 19 climbed into the late 30s.
She said Qantas staff assured her he would be kept on the tarmac for a few minutes before he was loaded into the airconditioned cargo hold. She said she was able to put a frozen bottle of water in his crate to help keep him cool.
But as she waited to board her flight at the gate, she became distressed to see through the window Duke had been left to wait on the tarmac under the baking sun.
“I’m not sure how long he’d already been there but as I watched, five, 10, 15 minutes passed, and he was still out there, in the crate, in that heat,” Ms Newman said.
“I alerted Qantas staff of my concerns over Duke being out in the heat, but I was assured that he was fine and would be loaded shortly.
“I became extremely distressed and started to cry as I once again told Qantas staff of my concerns about Duke being out in the heat all this time and explained that Boxers don’t tolerate heat very well.”
Ms Newman said Qantas staff assured her Duke was fine as she boarded her flight.
But when the plane landed in Brisbane and she went to the freight office to collect him, she was delivered heartbreaking news – Duke hadn’t survived the flight.
“I was beside myself. All I could do was scream ‘No, no, no,” she said.
“Duke was still in the crate and when I reached in and put my arms around him, I knew immediately why he died because the heat coming from the underside of his body, and the bottom of his crate, was immense.
“My poor boy suffered a terrible death because he was left out on the tarmac by Qantas baggage handlers, in the searing heat whilst they loaded all the passenger’s luggage and post parcels.”
Ms Newman said Duke’s death was “100 per cent preventable”.
“Qantas staff did not exercise their duty of care or use any common sense. Instead they treated Duke as though he was nothing but luggage and as a result he suffered an unimaginable death. Shame on you Qantas.
“This is not an isolated incident, there are others who have lost their beloved pets at the hands of Qantas and it needs to stop.”
In a statement sent to news.com.au, a spokesman for Qantas said an “unexpected delay” meant Duke was on the tarmac for a longer than, but insisted he was “fine” when loaded onto the plane.
“We have expressed our sympathies to Kay about the passing of her dog, Duke,” Qantas’s statement read.
“There was an unexpected delay with the flight which meant he was on the tarmac for longer than usual but our baggage handlers said Duke was fine when he was loaded onto the aircraft.
“Snub-nosed dogs, such as boxers, bulldogs and pugs can suffer from respiratory issues which meant they are at a higher risk when travelling by air.”
The incident came just days before another pet owner was left heartbroken after his beloved dog died on a domestic Qantas flight.
Anthony Balletta said his bulldog Frank, who was two days shy of his first birthday, died on QF405 from Sydney to Melbourne while travelling in a crate in the plane’s cargo hold. The dog was found lifeless in his crate when the plane reached Melbourne.
A Qantas spokesman told news.com.au a review of the incident had found Frank had not been mishandled.
Qantas customers who book their pets for travel are informed at the booking process that snub-nosed breeds, such as bulldogs, are considered high risk for air travel due to respiratory issues.
They are asked to sign a document prior to travel that acknowledges the risks associated with snub-nosed breeds.
Mr Balletta said since Frank’s death he has been horrified to discover how many snub-nosed dogs have died during air travel, and that some airlines refused to fly certain breeds.
Since sharing the news of Frank’s death on social media Mr Balletta said he has been inundated with “thousands” of messages from people sending their condolences as well as dog owners concerned about flying with their snub-nosed breeds.
“I’m telling them, don’t put (your dog) on the plane,” he said.
He said airlines that flew dogs in the cargo hold should have trained vets to check pets before flights.