Qantas has announced a temporary ban on bookings for flat-nosed dogs, days after a furious passenger accused airline staff of killing her boxer by leaving him on hot tarmac.
In a widely-shared Facebook post, Kay Newman said that her six-year-old dog Duke died after baggage handlers left him outside in his crate on a 39.3-degree day.
Newman and Duke were flying from Sydney to Brisbane on December 19, and she explained to Qantas staff that boxers do not cope well with extreme heat due to their flat noses.
She was assured that Duke “would only be kept on the tarmac for a few minutes and that he would be kept under cover until they were ready to put him on the plane.”
Her flight was delayed, and she recalled her horror when she peered out the window at the boarding gate to see his crate sitting in the sun on the tarmac.
“I’m not sure how long he’d already been there but as I watched, five, ten, fifteen minutes passed, and he was still out there, in the crate, in that heat,” she said.
She had packed frozen water bottles and a wet towel with him for the journey, but was concerned this would not be enough. She said that at that time:
“I alerted Qantas staff of my concerns over Duke being out in the heat, but I was assured that he was fine and would be loaded shortly. I kept waiting at the window as passengers started to board. I became extremely distressed and started to cry as I once again told Qantas staff of my concerns about Duke being out in the heat all this time and explained that Boxers don’t tolerate heat very well.”
She was told to board the plane and given assurances that Duke was, fine. When she arrived in Brisbane, however, she was informed that her dog had died:
“My poor boy suffered a terrible death because he was left out on the tarmac by Qantas baggage handlers, in the searing heat whilst they loaded all the [passengers’] luggage and post parcels. His death was 100% preventable. Qantas staff did not exercise their duty of care or use any common sense. Instead, they treated Duke as though he was nothing but luggage and as a result, he suffered an unimaginable death.”
A representative for Qantas admitted that Duke was left on the tarmac for “longer than usual” but said that he was “fine” when loaded onto the aircraft.
This was the second such incident in recent weeks, after a bulldog named Frank died in the cargo hold of a Qantas Sydney to Melbourne flight over Christmas.
The airline said that it found “no issues” with the way Frank was handled on the flight, and refunded devastated owner Anthony Balletta his $1100 transport fee.
Kay Newman recently started a Change.Org petition calling for Qantas to review it policies and procedures involving pets and travel.
As of today, the airline has decided to suspend the carrying of flat-nosed dogs, saying that breeds such as boxers, bulldogs, Boston terriers and pugs will not be able to travel with them.
Brachycephalic dog breeds can experience difficulty breathing due to their small snouts, and extreme heat can exacerbate this problem.Image: Kay Newman