The greyhound that was lost by Air Canada during a flight from San Francisco to Victoria, B.C. three weeks ago has been confirmed dead.
“Larry” the two-year-old Italian greyhound was bound for Campbell River on Oct. 7 after his owner passed away from cancer. Jutta Kulic, a friend of the dog’s owner, had found him a new home with a family in Campbell River.
But when Larry’s flight was cancelled, an Air Canada employee was taking the dog for a walk when he escaped.
Airport officials searched for the dog, but couldn’t find him.
Campbell River residents Duncan White and his wife, Lynda, were looking forward to adopting Larry and are heartbroken by the news of his death.
“We’re really, really quite upset about the whole thing,” White said.
The Whites and Kulic were still hoping Larry might be found alive until Thursday when they received a phone call from a veterinary hospital in San Francisco.
The veterinary hospital said that Larry was hit by a car on a nearby highway less than an hour after he went missing from the airport.
Kulic said he suffered a punctured lung and fractured pelvis, among other injuries.
A couple found the dog minutes after he was hit and rushed him to the animal hospital where veterinarians did everything they could to save the dog.
However, their efforts were unsuccessful and he had to be euthanized. Kulic said the couple stayed with Larry until the end.
“He was euthanized shortly after 5 p.m. and Air Canada didn’t call me to say he was missing until 6:30 p.m. Larry was already dead before I even knew he was missing,” Kulic said.
“We’re all very heartbroken about the outcome for Larry, but grateful that he wasn’t alone and that he’s not suffering,” Kulic said.
Air Canada issued a statement following the news of Larry’s death.
“Air Canada’s employees are extremely sad with the news about Larry. Many of our employees are pet owners and animal lovers, and our San Francisco team in particular continued to hold out hope that Larry would be found safe, and they had continued outreach on a daily basis to a number of organizations in the local area,” the statement said.
The airline said that all employees have been reminded of standard operating procedures when caring for pets, including asking customers to remain at the airport until flights carrying their pets leave.
White said Air Canada handled the incident very poorly and measures need to be taken to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to another family.
“It was something that really didn’t have to happen and the whole thing has been poorly handled by Air Canada and it’s just a sad thing all the way round,” he said. “They said there are policies and procedures in place and obviously they weren’t followed.”
According to Kulic, the Whites have agreed to adopt Larry’s brother, Leo, who was also in need of a home following his owners death.
Air Canada has agreed to cover Larry’s vet bills and fly Lynda to Ohio to pick up Leo and fly both back to Campbell River, Kulic said.
“Leo will not be travelling in cargo. He will be with Lynda in the passenger area,” Kulic said.
The incident attracted international attention after Air Canada appeared to dismiss the incident in an email to a local news station.
“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.”
Air Canada quickly issued another statement, saying the above email was inappropriate.
The story prompted another family to come forward with a story about Air Canada losing their dog at the Vancouver International Airport. That dog was killed by an eagle.