Airline blamed for dog’s death following flight

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Considine Kathleen Considine (center) with her 7-year-old golden retriever Jacob (left) before his death following a crate size issue during his United Airlines connecting flight to Portland.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Considine
Kathleen Considine (center) with her 7-year-old golden retriever Jacob (left) before his death following a crate size issue during his United Airlines connecting flight to Portland.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Dearborn native Kathleen Considine is blaming United Airlines for her dog Jacob’s death after a 20-hour delay reportedly without food.

She posted the story on her Facebook page on Feb. 10 hoping to get the word out to other dog owners because she said the airline was unresponsive to her requests.

“Hi friends, I’m asking all dog lover’s to please read and share this post,” she wrote. “The word needs to get out that airline travel is unsafe for dogs. They are treated like baggage instead of loyal, loving family members.”

Considine recently moved from Dearborn to Bend, Ore., leaving her dog with family until she prepared to fly him from Wayne County Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Her mother dropped off the 80-pound dog at the airport where an United Airlines employee said the crate would fit on both flights.

Jacob was scheduled to fly from Detroit to Portland with a one-hour layover in Chicago, but when he landed in Chicago his crate did not fit on the second airplane.

The 7-year-old golden retriever completed the mandatory physical less than 24 hours before his flight, clearing him for the flights. He had no previous heath issues, Considine said.

Jacob was then sent to a kennel overnight for 20 hours to wait for a flight on which his crate could fit.

“The airline did not allow my mother to send food with Jacob, due to the intended short duration of his journey,” Considine wrote. “Even though it is mandated that the crates have a food bowl and their website states they may have a zip lock bag less than one pound of food attached to the top of their crate.”

When Jacob arrived at Portland International Airport, Considine’s boyfriend waited to greet the dog, but Jacob was disoriented and non-responsive.

“The United agent said the airline may have given him medication, but he didn’t know,” Considine wrote. “The airline does not have the right to give medication, especially without telling us what, when, or why.”

She said she knew something was wrong with Jacob because he was unresponsive and could barley get out of his crate.

“My very best friend who I was expecting to trample me with kisses barely even acknowledged my existence,” she wrote. “There was clearly something wrong when he landed in Portland. He was not the same dog he was when he was in Detroit.”

Considine rushed Jacob to an emergency veterinarian because his breathing became scarce. The veterinarian attempted CPR for eight minutes with no luck.

It was determined Jacob died from gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome, which caused his “stomach to flip due to the stress of his journey that was 20 hours longer than expected, and suffocated his organs,” Considine explained.

She is now alerting other dog owners about the United Airlines PetSafe program by sharing her story.

“Nothing will bring my baby back, but I am asking everyone to please share this post so nobody else has to go through this terrible tragedy,” she wrote. “I am asking everyone to please share and get the word out about this terrible, negligent company. My heart is broken and I never want this to happen to another dog parent.”

United Airlines responded with a statement about the dog’s death and also issued Considine a refund.

“We were saddened to learn of Jacob’s passing, after he was returned to his owner,” the statement read. “Our PetSafe team is committed to the safety and comfort of all pets that travel with us. While Jacob was in our care we worked to ensure his comfort. He showed no signs of distress or being unwell while he was in our care.

“There is little we can do to ease pain of losing a pet, but we are in process of providing refund of shipping cost and are also reaching out to Jacob’s owner to coordinate making a donation in Jacob’s name.”

Considine did not say whether she plans to sue the airline and its program.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at