Duke was a large male boxer. He was cherished by his human, Australian Kay Newman. She watched in horror as her dog was left in a crate on the tarmac during a delay. Temperatures soared to over 102℉. Her sweet boy could not handle the heat, especially inside a kennel that radiated inside like an oven. Duke died and the airline thinks sympathy alone is enough.
Kay Informed Qantas that Duke’s Breed Was High Risk
Kay and Duke were booked on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Brisbane. Prior to the flight, Kay was asked to fill out some paperwork for her “cargo” Duke. She completed the paperwork, which clearly indicated that Duke was a snub-nosed breed and therefore was at a high risk of overheating.
Kay said, “When I handed Duke over at the freight, I had to include some paperwork with him to declare that he is what they call a snub-nose breed. Because they are more at risk of overheating. So with that information, they should have really taken extra care,” she said.
Kay Expressed Her Growing Concern for Duke in Real Time
Before separating from Duke, Kay did everything she could to combat the heat. She posted to Facebook, “I was worried about the heat but was told by Qantas freight staff 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.”
Further, “The staff at the freight office were great and when the time came to put Duke into the crate, they patiently waited while I did everything I could to ensure he would be kept cool. I used two bottles of ice water to soak Duke down as well as a towel for him to lay on, and filled up the water bowl. I kept the third bottle completely frozen and placed that in the crate with him. That should have been enough to keep him cool for the time it would take to load him onto the plane.”
The Qantas flight was delayed so the baggage and cargo were left sitting on the tarmac waiting to be loaded far longer than the “few minutes” that was expected. Kay was watching from the gate windows. She would see Duke’s crate and she was very worried that he was not okay. He was in the blazing sun with no shade. With temperatures over 102℉, she knew Duke was in trouble. She expressed her concerns to the gate attendants and was dismissed.
“I went to the Qantas staff at the gate and I was really upset. I said, ‘my dog has been out there quite a while now. He’s at higher risk from the heat. I’m really concerned.’ They just assured me that he was fine, he would be loaded shortly… he just remained out there,” she said.
Kay was the last passenger to board. She was crying and a flight attendant asked her if everything was okay. She told the attendant about her concerns and the pilot called down to have the baggage crew check on Duke. Kay was told that Duke was fine. Obviously, he wasn’t. Kay estimates that Duke was exposed to this crushing heat for well over an hour. She has requested CCTV footage from the airline who has ignored the request.
Upon Arrival, Kay Found Out Duke Was Dead
After arriving, Kay went to the freight office to collect Duke. They asked her if she was Kay Newman and then asked her to come through to an inner office. She knew this wasn’t normal and started screaming and crying asking what happened. She was told they had some bad news. Her dog had not survived the flight. In a Facebook post she wrote, “I was beside myself, all I could do was scream no, no, no. I demanded to see Duke because I didn’t want to believe what was happening.”
“Duke was still in the crate and when I reached in and put my arms around him, I knew immediately why he died because the heat coming from the underside of his body, and the bottom of his crate was immense. My poor boy suffered a terrible death.”
Qantas Has Expressed Sympathy and Nothing Else
Kay has been trying to obtain details about the investigation into Duke’s death by Qantas. Her calls are being ignored. Qantas did issue a public expression of sympathy. As if that is enough. It’s not. Not by a long shot. Kay is calling for a change in the processes and procedures related to live cargo handling by Qantas. Nothing short of that will be acceptable.
Within Two Days, Another Dog Died in Qantas’ Care
It pains us to share that an English Bulldog named Frank died on a domestic flight in Australia while in Qantas’ care. This occurred just two days after Duke’s death. “I dropped to the floor, they had to carry me out of the airport,” Frank’s human told news.com.au.
Kay Started a Petition and Qantas Made Policy Changes
Kay started a petition to push Qantas to improve their processes in handling live cargo. When the petition had about 70k signatures, Qantas released a statement regarding “high-risk” dogs on Qantas flights. Effective immediately, Qantas will temporarily ban all breeds that are prone to breathing problems from flights. Over the next two weeks they will develop a new policy with the RSPCA that will include new rules for snub-nosed dogs breed, including that they will not be allowed to fly unless they have been “cleared to fly” by a vet immediately prior to travel. Further, Qantas strongly recommends that customers employ registered animal shipping companies when flying. Finally, Qantas is reviewing its airport equipment and procedures with the aim of minimizing time on the tarmac and protecting animals.
Sign the petition if you are interested in having your voice heard on this issue. It has been signed over 76,000 times so far.