The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Service Dog Forced Under Seat by Airline Dies

Monday, September 24, 2012

Service Dog Forced Under Seat by Airline Dies

Salt Lake City, Utah  - For nearly six years, Brenda Nelson and her little service pug were constant companions. When Brenda spent a year teaching in Lithuania, Sofia went along for the journey. But Sofia would not make it back home.

"My experience, if I had not had Sofia, it would have been completely different than what it was," Nelson said of her trip to Lithuania. "Because she, again, was nothing but a service of goodwill."

The pair was on the last leg of their trip home, waiting for a Jet Blue flight from New York City back home to Salt Lake. The flight was delayed, and once on the plane, the plane stayed on the tarmac for an additional 45 minutes.

A flight attendant insisted Nelson keep Sofia in her carrier, on the floor, under the seat in front of her. Without fresh air and circulation, the pug struggled to breathe. Between the two delays, Sofia, was in her carrier for 99 minutes total.

"I could tell she was having some hard time breathing," Nelson said. "She was panting heavily and that's why I was sprinkling her with the waterbottle that I had."

"Her life ended in a very traumatic, unnecessary way," Nelson said of the dog she referred to as her right hand. "…The next thing I realized I was walking off the plane carrying my dog, my lifeless dog in my arms."

Jet Blue arranged for a hotel room and told Nelson she could take the dog's body home the next day.

After having the dog preserved, she arrived to the airport to find her flight was delayed two hours, and that she could not take the dog's body on the plane with her.

The airline told her the dog would need to be cremated, at Nelson's expense.

"I was so drained and I had nobody to turn to," Nelson said. "I was literally alone in New York City for three days."

Three days later, Nelson stepped onto the plane with just a ceramic paw print, harness and ashes — all that was left of Sofia.

"She was not baggage. She was a living, loving animal," Nelson said.

Jet Blue responded to KSL through email, stating only that the delay on Nelson's flight was due to a "customer matter."

Nelson says Jet Blue offered her a $200 voucher for a future flight, which she says she will not be using. She says she is looking for an attorney and is considering legal action.

Death of animals during air transportation
Alaska American Continental Delta Hawaiian United     Total
   4               5                 3            19                2      2                35

Source: Department of Transportation



Anonymous said...

RIP little one ... the information below might be helpful in seeking justice for your needless death.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has rules (14 CFR part 382) (PDF) that require airlines to allow passengers to fly with their service animals in the cabin on all U.S. airlines. Service animals are not pets. They are working animals that assist persons with disabilities. There is no limit to the number of service animals that can be on any flight. Service animals do not need any health certificates to travel and they do not need to be confined in a container or cage.

Barona Whiteing-Green said...

Thank you so much for your comment. I was also sadden by this news. I appreciate you taking the time in sending me the information from the ffa website. I will post this information for my readers as a story. Again thanks for your input!