In what could be every pet owner’s nightmare, a dog lost by Delta Air Lines last week remains missing as his owners try to piece together what happened.
Paco, a Mexican stray adopted by a Canadian couple vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, was supposed to be in transit to Detroit from Mexico City, but never appeared in the Delta pet claim area.
Josiah Allen, Paco’s owner, claims that Delta initially told him that the dog did not make it onto his flight, but was being cared for by Delta employees.
According to Allen, the airline promised Paco would be placed on the next flight from Mexico City to Detroit and delivered to Allen’s home in Canada.
The airline later retracted its original claim when Allen’s friend in Mexico called the airport to inquire about the dog’s well being. Delta told Allen’s friend that Paco had broken out of his carrier and escaped. The dog would not be coming home.
Since current laws and regulations treat transported animals like luggage, Delta and other airlines have limited liability if something goes wrong. Even if the airline is held responsible, monetary compensations for the loss or injury of a pet is the same as for lost or damaged luggage.
Compensation usually caps at $2,800 per passenger for domestic flights or $9.07 a pound for international flights.
Delta later reached out to Allen and offered to reimburse him for the cost of rescuing the dog. The airline also offered an additional $400 in travel vouchers.
Find out how to prevent tragedies like this in our Pet Travel section.
The airline has yet to share details about what had happened to Paco in Mexico, but is still investigating the issue.
Paco’s story may not be common, but it’s not unheard of for an airline to lose a pet. In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation made it a requirement for U.S. airlines to file monthly reports on pets that where lost, injured or killed during air transport.
Since the monthly tallies began in 2005 to March of 2010, there have been 135 animal deaths, 59 animal injures and 34 animals have been lost.
The tallies could actually be higher since only animals flying with people are counted. Livestock or animals flying solo through the pet trade are not included.
To read about similar cases and protect your own pets while flying, read our previous report on pet travel, Flying the Not-So-Pet-Friendly Skies.
As for Allen, he is still hopeful that Paco might be found. He hopes the dog was taken home by a airline worker.
By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com.
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