Anne Van Gorp, Global Animal

When Michael Jarboe boarded his United Airlines flight in Miami, he thought he had taken all the necessary precautions for keeping his beloved pet safe on the cross-country flight. Unfortunately, something went wrong along the way and his beloved Neopolitan Mastiff has passed away. 

Jarboe was devastated after landing in San Francisco when he was informed that his 140 pound dog Bam Bam did not survive the journey and was pronounced dead upon landing in California. United Airlines paid for an autopsy, concluding Bam Bam’s death was the result of a heart attack.

Jarboe and his dog had a multiple-hour layover in Houston, TX, where temperatures were reaching a sweltering high outside. Prior to the plane taking off, Jarboe spotted his dog in a suffering state on the tarmac below the plane. “We were right there,” Jarboe told Florida based TV station WSVN, “he was so hot. His tongue was hanging down. Never, ever, have I ever seen him that hot.” Jarboe assumed that the $650 airfare ticket for Bam Bam included proper care, such as air conditioning ventilation, that would ensure safe travel. 

Bam Bam died after flying on an United Airlines plan to San Francisco. Photo Credit: WSVN

This devastating incident follows a similar situation a few weeks ago, where supermodel Maggie Rizer’s dog passed away on a United Airlines flight from New York to San Francisco. Rizer had a supplementary veterinarian review her golden retriever Beatrice, concluding he died of heatstroke.  

According to United Airlines, pets are kept in air-conditioned vehicles for layovers longer than 45 minutes.”Our holding facilities are USDA animal welfare-approved and provide ample room and air ventilation, in addition to regular monitoring and watering provided by trained pet safe personnel,” the airline said in a statement. United Airlines continues to claim the death was not transit-related. The airlines did offer Jarboe a refund for his dog’s ticket, but he refused to accept it. 

Upset by the airline statements, Jarboe further questioned workers and received more disheartening news.  According to Daily Mail UK, a United worker told Jarobe the dog was put into a ventilated holding area with just a fan, instead of an air-conditioned room. 

“We have been in contact with Mr. Jarboe and are saddened by the loss of his dog, Bam Bam,” the airline said to the Daily News. “The safety of the animals we transport is always considered first and foremost when making decisions regarding their routing and carriage.”

Our sympathy goes out to Michael Jarboe for his devastating loss. There is always risk involved with traveling with your pet, but certain standards and guidelines must be practiced by airline companies. We hope United Airlines and others take immediate action to address and prevent any other dire cases of animal abuse. 

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Air Travel: Is Checking Your Pet Safe? 

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