October 11, 2013 12:53 pm

Air Canada loses dog, sends email dismissing owner’s complaint

ABOVE: Air Canada loses woman’s dog. Cindy Pom reports. 

TORONTO – An American woman who was tasked with finding a home for her friend’s dog after she died of cancer is upset after Air Canada lost the dog.

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She went to the local media, who received an email from an Air Canada spokesperson – apparently meant to be sent to a co-worker – complaining local media were even interested in the escaped dog.

Jutta Kulic, a Ohio woman promised her friend before she died of cancer that she would find a home for Larry, her 2-year-old greyhound. And she did, in Campbell River, British Columbia.

She booked a Monday morning flight for the dog from San Francisco to Vancouver as she was passing through on her way to Sacramento.

“It would be the safest thing for Larry to travel out of San Francisco, two hours straight up the coast to Vancouver, then he had a 24-minute connection to Victoria,” she said in a telephone interview Friday. “He never got off the ground.”

The original flight was cancelled but Air Canada assured her another flight had been arranged for the dog and a kennelling service would take care of him overnight before returning him to the airport for his morning flight.

“I was just saying to remind the kennelling service the dog was never to be taken out of the carrier unless he was in a fully enclosed area,” she said. “And Air Canada had been given those instructions explicitly, more than one time, when I dropped off the dog.”

A few hours later, she received a call from Air Canada that an employee had tried take the dog for a walk but it escaped. Airport police and Air Canada officials assured her they would be looking for the dog.

MAP: A look at the locations involved.

A local CBS station began investigating Kulic’s complaints and received two emails from Air Canada. The first stated the airline had a team looking for the dog.  The second however was dismissive of the media’s attempts to help the woman.

Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick provided a copy of the email exchange to Global News:

“I think I would just ignore, it is local news doing a story on a lost dog,” the Air Canada email read. “Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the US media spends its time.”

In an email to Global News, Fitzpatrick characterized the above statement as “inappropriate.”

“I thought it was incredibly callous and I also was horrified that they would think that of our government. So it was on two levels. It was both a personal level and then also on a national level,” Kulic said. “I was greatly insulted. I’m not sure I know what else to say.”

Fitzpatrick said the airline tries to “ensure the transportation of animals is done under the best conditions for them.”

“Upon learning Larry was missing, we contacted the owner and immediately instituted a search, with both cargo and airport staff. We have reached out to local groups involved in animal rescue for assistance,” the statement read. “Additionally, we have broadly alerted the airport community and posters are up. There have been reported sightings, and we remain optimistic Larry will be returned.”

Global News tried to check the USDA guidelines for how long dogs can be left in a kennel before having to be taken out but the USDA.gov website is down during the government shutdown.

Kulic fears the dog might have been killed. She said Friday she’s received three similar stories, one from a TSA officer, one from a shuttle bus driver and another via social media that all relate a story of a brown dog seen being hit by a car near the airport. That story though has not been confirmed.

She’s forgiven the employee who let the dog out, saying they were “trying to do something nice and they made a huge mistake.” The person who sent her the email though, she thinks should be fired.

“Everybody has asked me whether I think the Air Canada employee who took the dog for a walk should lose their job and I said ‘no, someone was trying to do something nice and they made a huge mistake.’ I don’t want that to ever happen again,” she said. “But I’ll tell you, I think the person that sent this email should go somewhere else.”

[View the story "Lost pooch puts Air Canada in the PR doghouse" on Storify]

- With files from Cindy Pom

© Shaw Media, 2013

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