It was shortly after the KLM plane touched down at Los Angeles International Airport on the 19th of March this year that Andranik Avetisian was told of the demise of his Asian Shepherd puppy 'Bear'.
Avetisian told The Independent he has not been allowed to see the dog since its arrival. The Californian has now called on his lawyer to get to the bottom of why an otherwise healthy young dog died while in the care of the Dutch airline.
The policy of most airlines is to house large animals in specially ventilated and pressurized parts of a plane's hold. KLM allows its passengers to take smaller dogs and cats into the cabin.
According to The Independent, a spokesperson for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said: ‘We take matters of animal welfare very seriously. KLM’s Cargo Department is in contact with the owner of the dog, and for reasons of customer confidentiality, we cannot release further details around the current investigation’.
Autopsy results will reveal the cause of death
Avetisian’s lawyer and KLM must now await the findings of an upcoming autopsy on Bear, which is bound to reveal the cause of death. Hypothetically, if the dog died of asphyxiation the finger of blame may point at the airline and its lack of provision of sufficient oxygen to the hold during the flight.
KLM is not the only airline to have felt the wrath of passengers bereft of their pets in transit. In 2018, the Washington Post revealed that North American United Airlines had the highest rates of mid-flight animal mortality in comaprison to any other major airline.
The newspaper did temper its revelation with the fact that United was one of only a handful of airlines that accepted dogs of the squashed-nosed breeds (such as Bulldogs and pugs), which are generally considered more prone than other dogs to suffocation and heart attacks.
The investigation into the death of Bear continues.