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Airline Loses Dog, Offers Token Compensation

After losing passenger's dog in transit, Delta Air offers $200 voucher in compensation

May 12, 2010

A Canadian couple has turned to the internet for help in finding their pet dog Paco, lost by Delta Airlines, after he was checked in for a flight from Mexico City to Detroit.

Josiah Allen, a college student from Ontario, and his girlfriend Erin Docking have collected hundreds of signatures for an online petition entitled: “Tell Delta Airlines to PLEASE FIND Paco!”

“Lost baggage is one thing, but a live animal...,” Mr Allen told the Consumerist website where he first aired his complaints.

Delta at first said that the dog remained in its cage at Mexico City airport. But then the airline admitted that Paco had disappeared — and offered a $200 (£134) travel voucher in compensation.

Mr Allen and his girlfriend adopted the ailing tick-infested stray while on holiday last month in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta.

The couple took the dog — a small white cross breed similar to a Jack Russell — to the vet to be cleaned up, get inoculations and be treated for an eye infection. They named him Paco.

“We soon discovered that this dog was a very lucky find, and that it would be loyal and friendly to my girlfriend and I,” Mr Allen said. “It would walk by my side along the beach and along the sidewalks, went to the washroom outside, didn’t bark at cars or other dogs, and would sleep on the bed next to us curled up in a ball quite contently.” The Canadian pair bought an airline-approved pet kennel and paid $200 pet fare to transport Paco home with them.

On check-in in Mexico City, the couple were assured that Paco would be flown on the same plane as them.

But when they got to Detroit, Paco was nowhere to be found. After two hours at the airport, they were told that Paco had missed the aircraft but would be looked after in Mexico City and put on the next flight.

The following day, Mr Allen called up Delta to find out when Paco might be arriving. No one seemed to know.

A friend in Mexico City started making inquiries and was eventually told that Paco had escaped from his cage. Mr Allen reacted with disbelef, saying Paco could never have escaped from his hard plastic pet carrier, which had a wire metal door and two locks.

Delta tried to mollify Mr Allen by offering to refund the $200 pet fare in the form of a voucher for future travel on the airline. But Mr Allen ridicules that idea, saying that he plans never to fly Delta again.

Facing a public relations fiasco, Delta has since increased its offer two more $200 vouchers plus $380 to cover the costs of Paco’s shots, food, leash and the kennel.

An airline source told the CNN television network that Paco had broken out of his cage on the tarmac and escaped pursuing airport workers by slipping through a fence. Staff then spent several hours driving through the surrounding neighbourhood in an unsuccessful effort to recapture him.

Susan Elliott, a Delta spokeswoman, said: “Our staff have conducted exhaustive searches to locate the dog which escaped from its kennel on May 3 in Mexico City. In the meantime, we have been in contact with the dog’s owner to inform them of the situation and to offer our sincere apologies that we have been unable to recover the dog.”

Paco is not the first dog to disappear in transit on Delta Airlines. Four years ago, the prize-winning whippet Vivi went missing at John F. Kennedy airport in New York after competing in the Westminster Kennel Club Show.

Delta paid $2,800 in compensation to Vivi’s owners, even though the dog was valued at $20,000.

Vivi was never seen again, but in 2008 a pet psychic claimed that the dog was alive and living in Brooklyn “making friends and trying to raise a litter on her own”.

After losing passenger's dog in transit, Delta Air offers $200 voucher in compensation
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