Monday, January 24, 2011

Kitten Death on Delta Airlines

The following tragic story was originally posted by doriansmomma at on Sunday, January 23, 2011.  It's horrific on so many levels - but what it boils down to is airline greed and Delta deliberately misleading us, the public, into thinking that transporting an animal in CLIMATE CONTROLLED CARGO is safe.  Please read this and learn the truth!

Hi Everyone, Last night our family experienced the worst tragedy I have ever personally experienced & I wanted to post this hoping to reach as many Sphynx cat owners & breeders as I possibly can.

We purchased an 11 week old Sphynx kitten from a breeder & her flight was scheduled to come in last night at 8:40PM on Delta Flight # 738 into BDL (Hartford). (Climate controlled cargo by Delta Dash)

We arrived at the airport at 8:15pm, camera & 2 kids in hand to pick up our long awaited new arrival. We immediately went to baggage claim where we would pick her up from her long flight from Utah.

When we arrived, we were told to go sit by the conveyors for luggage & that as soon as the plane was unloaded, they would bring our new family member out to us. We waited & waited & at 8:50 I went to the baggage claim & asked for an update. I told the woman that the kitten was a Sphynx & had no hair & that I was beginning to worry since it was only 7 degrees outside. I was told the flight had arrived on time (8:40pm), but to sit back down, that the cargo hold latch was stuck, but they were doing all they could & would bring her out as soon as they could.

I wasn't incredibly alarmed, After all, I paid $290 for her to be in a climate controlled cargo area. I figured she would be fine as long as she wasn't outdoors. At 9:30pm, they brought the carrier out to me & the woman who handed the carrier to me told me I should take her out & that the carrier was very cold. She removed the zip ties & I took the carrier to the floor & opened the door.

The kitten was ICE cold, limp, and unresponsive. I IMMEDIATELY put her into my coat, grabbed my kids by the hands & ran out of the airport to get her into my car & cranked up the heat putting all vents on her as I rubbed her trying to warm her up.

She couldn't lift or control any limbs, her breathing was labored, she had a blank stare in her eyes, and she let out a meow. As if to say help me -- please.

We rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, but to my utter devastation, on the drive, she let out a blood curdling cry & went completely limp as we frantically drove to the vet.

When we arrived, I literally ran in, and gave her to the nurse who whisked her into the back. After 10 minutes, a vet came out & told me that she that she was "DOA" and that there was nothing they could have done to save her. There was nothing I could have done to save her either.

The vet then explained to me that once a plane lands, the cargo compartment depressurizes & there is no longer climate control. She told me that she didn't stand a chance in this freezing weather sitting in the Delta Cargo hold for almost 50 minutes.

I spent the rest of the night last night crying & more or less having a nervous breakdown. She died cold, lonely & scared. Her last hour of life was spent frozen & unable to escape. I am so utterly devastated -- I cannot express to anyone how this feels. I am so sad for her, her little 11 week life lost for no reason. A tragedy that could have been prevented if the airline had valued her little promising life.

Delta didn't have much to say to me last night & I am waiting for the president of cargo to call me today, the bottom line is that they can't bring her back to me or my family, there is nothing they can say or do to make this whole. We don't want a new kitten, we fell in love with HER. She was our new child & there is nothing that can be done to bring her home to us. Snickers lost her life unnecessarily.

I just hope that by reading this, I can save someone else the devastation. If you are buying a kitten & live in a cold climate -- PLEASE RETHINK SHIPMENT WHEN IT IS BELOW 30 degrees. If you are a breeder -- PLEASE RETHINK SHIPMENT if you are shipping to an area below 30 degrees. You can put a kitten in a climate controlled cargo, but if it depressurizes -- IT IS NO LONGER CLIMATE CONTROLLED.

Please please please don't let another kitten die, be patient, let it warm up a bit. As we all know, these hairless creatures are the most loving wonderful animals, but they just don't stand a chance against a cargo area that is utterly freezing with employees who are more concerned with getting luggage to their respective owners. Value life everyone, I have just experienced something I pray no one here has too. Don't let Snickers lost life be in vain, I pray you guys read this & maybe another kittens life won't be lost to the cold & lonely Delta Cargo holds.

 And here she is, the beautiful Snickers only 2 weeks before she took the flight that claimed her life.

(The original thread can be read in its entirety at Kitten death on Delta ).


Sweet Praline said...

That is so sad. It makes me angry that the cargo people didn't seem to care that there was a live kitten on board!

Alexi said...

Why would the breeder allow a Sphynx to fly as cargo in winter? This kitten should never have been shipped in such cold temperature. That was a mistake on the part of the breeder not the airline. Some people are just too stupid.

Nekkid_Alice said...

Such a sad story. I hope it can help future owners understand how dangerous shipping a kitten can be.

Harry Spotter said...

I read it over at the Lair. It is very sad. I have had 3 cats sent by air , all were supposed to be in air controlled, temp controlled compartments and checked on every 15 minutes. The breeders would not send them of the temp was below or above a certain temp. This is very sad. Lets hope this doesnt happen again.

momsbusy said...

i wonder how many people are misled into thinking that climate controlled meant then entire time the animal is on board the plane. it really bothers me is that the cargo people had to know that there is no climate control once the compartment depressurizes. very few pets can tolerate such cold for any length of time. this was an avoidable tragedy.

prayers for the family. especially for the kids, who had to witness what happened. very traumatic.

Us4 Cats said...

what a beautiful little girl-

this is just wrong! how can people be so heartless . when that plane landed she should have been removed right away. this is part of the service the airline offers YET they have no accountability for their inactive behavior? this did not need to happen this way. and, who shipped this kitten ? are they being accountable for doing this is such cold temperatures!! very sad.

Alexi said...

I thought this statement was most telling. This is probably from the paperwork that accompanied the cat.
"a copy of the vet's paperwork which recommended that a hairless cat not be shipped when temperatures were anticipated to be under 20° degrees Fahrenheit. "

Now who was responsible for bringing the cat to Delta to be shipped - the breeder. Lets put blame where it rightly belongs- on the breeder not the airline.

We have shipped kittens and cats but I would NEVER ship a cat when temps are below freezing. That is just plain stupid. In fact shipping cats when it is too hot is also just stupid. Some states like mine won't allow shipping of cats below or above certain temperatures. PERIOD. If it is too hot or too cold, then you have to delay shipping or someone has to take the cat on board.

AFSocksScylla said...

This makes us very sad and angry at Delta. We are so sorry for your loss.

The Lee County Clowder said...

We're a bit confused about some of the timings. If the plane was on time, it was just less than an hour from the time the plane landed (8:40) until the new pawrents had Snickers (9:30). Factor in that everything in the cargo hold would still be warm, even after the hold was depressurized. We have a hard time believing Snickers would get that cold if she was carried directly from the hold to the pawrents once the door was open.

We're wondering how long that poor kittie was sitting on the runway while the baggage handlers staggered around unloading the rest of the hold.

Alexi said...

I think we all need to recognize the need to exercise good judgment. It is impossible for an airline to have safeguards for very possibility. I took a look at the thread over at Sphynxlair. What? The kitten was wearing a sweater,hot water bottles, sleeping bag. I can almost bet you that Delta told the breeder that that they would not ship the cat with those things in the carrier. THe breeder should have walked away and not shipped the kittten- simple. We have shipped and they always look in the carrier. They are strict as what can be or not be in the carrier. Again, it is the BREEDER's fault. What harm would have it done to wait until the temperature warmed up may be a couple of days, a month? Would not that have been worth it in the long run.