As a Veterinarian I know that animals’ lives sometimes end unpredictably. I also know that during an aeroplane flight a dog is housed in the hull of the jumbo – inaccessible for monitoring. So on the surface, a case of a dog dying in transit is a tragic accident. What set this story apart is not the unfortunate accident but the woeful incompetence which followed it:
“When we arrived in San Francisco to pick up our dogs we drove to the dark cargo terminal and on arrival in the hanger were told simply, “one of them is dead” by the emotionless worker who seemed more interested in his text messages. It took thirty minutes for a supervisor to come to tell us, “it was the two year old.” Subsequently we requested that our dog be returned to us and were told that she had been delivered to a local vet for an autopsy. Whatever thread of trust remained between us and United broke and we then insisted that she be returned to us for our own autopsy by our trusted veterinarian, Shann Ikezawa, DVM from Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center. Over the next two hours the supervisor’s lie unraveled as it became clear that Bea was right behind a closed door the whole time and he had been discussing how to handle the potential liability with his boss who had left and sticking to the divert and stall tactic that they had been taught. Eventually Bea was returned and we drove her to the vet at midnight.”
This is disgraceful incompetence. Goodness know if a company run this poorly has procedures in place to handle a medical emergency. Whatever the cause of death may have been, its’ aftermath convinces me that United Airlines animal transportation services should not be trusted.