Airline Loses Passenger's Dog — Here's How to Protect Your Furry Friend

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Ty went missing after a Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Tampa. (Frank Ramano)

The airline losing your luggage is frustrating. The airline losing your pet can be devastating.

Sadly, that’s exactly what Frank Ramano is experiencing right now. Ramano says that Delta Airlines lost his dog on a flight from Los Angeles to Tampa on Oct. 31. More than a week later, his dog is still missing, and he is stuck in Tampa waiting for news.  

"To me it sounds like they don’t care,” Ramano told 10 News. “They sound like they lost a piece of baggage. No. He’s family. He’s like my best friend. He’s another part of our family.”

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Frank and Ty (Frank Ramano)

How did something like this happen? According to Delta, the dog chewed through the crate in the cargo section of the plane and ran across the tarmac. Delta said that LAX workers tried and are still trying to find Ty.

Ramano doesn’t believe the airlines take on events, and is desperate to find his dog. He says that the airline offered him a $200 credit toward another flight, but the only thing he wants it to be reunited with Ty. “I just want him home safe. I just want him back,” says Ramano.  

So how do you prevent this from happening to you? Pet Relocation, a company that helps people transport their pets domestically and internationally, suggests the following tips:

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Help your pet travel safely be getting them familiar with their crate. (Thinkstock)

1. “The biggest thing is to choose a pet-friendly airline,” says Pet Relocation’s New Media Coordinator, Caitlin Moore. “United has an great pet program with trained professionals and procedures in place. It’s much more streamlined and safer than many other airlines.” For international travel, Moore says that Pet Relocation usually chooses KLMBritish Airways, or Lufthansa to safely transport pets. 

2. Talk to your vet about whether it's safe for your animal to fly. Age, weight, medical history, and even temperament all play a role in deciding if your pet is up for the traveling experience.

3. Take extra caution with snub-nosed breeds. Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Mastiffs, Persian cats, and other brachycephalic breeds are more susceptible to breathing problems and heat stroke in stressful situations such as air travel. 

4. Plan early and plan well. Just as you wouldn’t choose a random doctor out of the phone book to perform a serious operation, you can’t rush into pet travel without planning carefully. 

5. Consider crate training. “Some dogs are more nervous, so we emphasize crate training to help them get used to the crate,” says Moore.

While an airline completely losing an animal is rare, incidents do occur. The Department of Transportation (DOT) releases a monthly air travel consumer report that details animal incidents on different airlines ranging from injuries sustained during flight to death. 

Former airline operations manager and aviation writer William McGee says it’s important for passengers to calculate the risks before choosing to travel with a pet.  "It’s important to realize there’s a big difference between flying in the cabin [which is safer] and flying in a belly cargo compartment," says McGee. "Are the chances of something happening rather small? Yes. But it’s still a risk you should consider beforehand."

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