A flight attendant’s carelessness causes a puppy’s death. How to avoid a similar situation
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Pet lovers across the country were horrified and angry last month after a United Airlines flight attendant placed a carrier containing a French bulldog puppy named Kokito into the overhead storage bin -- over the owner’s protests. By the end of the three-hour flight, Kokito was dead from lack of oxygen.
In this case, a language barrier complicated the situation, with the flight attendant not hearing, misunderstanding or ignoring the owner’s statement that a pet was in the bag.
United has taken responsibility for the dog’s death and refunded the passengers’ ticket costs -- including the hefty pet fee. Starting this month, it will place bright yellow tags on pet carriers to alert flight attendants to four-legged occupants.
It’s not yet known if the owners will seek additional damages, if the flight attendant will be fired or if criminal charges will be filed. In the aftermath, Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada introduced the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act, or WOOFF, to create regulations to protect future air-traveling pets from improper stowage.
But as all pet lovers know, no amount of compensation, punishment of the perpetrator or legislation can make up for the loss of a dog’s life, especially under circumstances that should never have happened in the first place. It’s unlikely that this exact scenario will ever be repeated, but there may be other instances in which a pet’s life is put at risk during travel. What can a dog or cat owner traveling by air do to either avoid or deal with a similar situation?
-- Be prepared. Know what size pet carrier is permitted on board. Measure yours to make sure it meets the requirements, and bring a copy of the airline’s rules with you in case of a dispute.
-- When choosing seats, some people prefer the aisle because it’s easier to get in and out of the seat with the carrier, but there is also more risk that the service cart will run into it or people walking by will accidentally kick it. A CNBC news story reported that Kokito’s carrier was slightly protruding into the aisle, prompting the flight attendant’s demand that it be placed in the overhead space. It may be safer, more comfortable and less stressful for your pet if you are in a middle or window seat.
-- Remain calm and polite, but advocate for your pet if a flight attendant asks you to do something that you feel endangers your animal. The Federal Aviation Administration says passengers must follow flight attendant instructions regarding proper stowage of pet carriers. Pet carriers go beneath the seat in front of you, never in the overhead compartment. Ask to speak to the purser or chief flight attendant if there is disagreement.
-- If you see something, say something, even if it’s not your pet. It’s OK to express concern to authority when you witness something that appears unsafe. Again, ask to speak to the purser if you aren’t satisfied with the response.
Whether you are an onlooker or the owner, record the incident on your smartphone or ask someone else to do so.
-- For your pet’s safety and comfort, as well as for that of other passengers, keep him inside the carrier. This prevents accidental escapes or negative interactions with other passengers or flight attendants.
-- Finally, some people have criticized Kokito's owner for complying. That is wrong. We have all seen news stories of people removed, sometimes forcibly, from flights when they refused to comply with a flight attendant’s direction. Flight attendants have full authority on flights, and questioning one can be intimidating, especially if English is not a passenger’s first language.
Batteries plus dog equal
negative wallet charge
Q: Help! My 8-month-old Lab puppy chewed up a toy that contained batteries and swallowed them. What now?
A: We know you have already taken your puppy to the veterinarian for care, but for all the other owners of Lab puppies and other dogs who love to chew, here’s the skinny on swallowing batteries and other potentially dangerous objects.
It’s no surprise that a Lab puppy ate a battery-operated toy. As a veterinarian, I never cease to be amazed by the variety of things dogs will pick up, put in their mouths and send down the hatch. Beyond batteries and internal squeakers, things dogs ingest include dish towels, socks, knives, rocks, wooden skewers and more. Labs, especially, have a reputation for downing anything that looks interesting, but any puppy or dog has the potential to do so. Many dogs outgrow this habit, but I heard just recently about a 10-year-old golden, normally well-behaved, who ate a plastic measuring cup.
Once we confirm that there is indeed something in the belly, we may induce vomiting depending on the type of object. If the item is something sharp or that might otherwise cause damage coming up, veterinarians may take a wait-and-see attitude. A lot of foreign objects will pass without causing an obstruction or other injury.
A high-fiber food and some canned pumpkin will often encase a foreign body and move it out in as little as six to eight hours, but it can take up to three days. If it still hasn’t made an appearance in your dog’s poop and your dog is showing signs of obstruction such as vomiting, regurgitating or just not feeling well (the veterinary term is ADR, or “ain’t doin’ right), then he may have an obstruction that calls for surgical removal. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
cat health care
-- Winn Feline Foundation celebrates 50 years of promoting cat health and welfare. Founded in 1968, the nonprofit organization supports studies that have improved the lives of millions of cats. Some programs raise money for research in specific areas, such as the Bria Fund for FIP research and the Ricky Fund to study hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Over the years, Winn-supported researchers discovered that more taurine was needed in cat food to prevent development of dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease that was killing cats; the importance of measuring a cat’s blood pressure; feline blood typing; and tests to detect genetic defects in certain breeds.
-- A 6-year-old wire fox terrier from Belgium took Best in Show at the 2018 Beverly Hills Dog Show, which aired last night on the USA Network. GCH King Arthur Van Foliny, handled by Gabriel Rangel, beat out more than 1,200 dogs of 175 breeds at the red-carpet show, adding to his list of wins, including Best in Show at the National Terrier Show in the United Kingdom in 2016, three-time Best in Show winner at the Wire Fox Association in England, and Best in Show at the 2014 and 2015 European Dog Show. Check your local listings for repeat airings of the Beverly Hills Dog Show.
-- Pet lovers have a lot to celebrate in April. It’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month; Pet First Aid Awareness Month; Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month; and National Heartworm Awareness Month. National Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 8-14; and National Pet ID Week is April 15-21. National Pet Day is April 11 (we thought that was every day); International Guide Dog Day is April 25; National Kids and Pets Day, April 26; Hairball Awareness Day, April 27; World Veterinary Day, April 28; and National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, April 30. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.