An eight-year-old dog being flown to New Jersey died Wednesday while waiting for a connecting flight with Delta Air Lines.
The Pomeranian, named Alejandro, was flying from Phoenix to New Jersey but was found dead during a layover at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
A spokesperson from Delta told CNN that the dog was found dead in its carrier in a cargo facility at the airport. A flight attendant had checked on the dog around 6 a.m., but he was dead about two hours later.
In an email statement provided to Global News, the airline said it is investigating the death.
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“Pets are an important member of the family and we are focused on the well-being of all animals we transport,” the statement read.
“Delta is conducting a thorough review of the situation to ensure this does not happen again and have been working directly with Alejandro’s family to support them however we can.”
The airline added that it had offered arrange for a necropsy to be performed on the dog, but they were not allowed.
“We are disappointed that we were not allowed to have a necropsy performed immediately following this unfortunate situation. The family now has Alejandro and we continue to offer our support.”
The dog’s owner, Michael Dellegrazie, told WDIV-TV that the family is devastated by the loss.
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“We lost a family member. That’s exactly what happened, and somebody has to be responsible for it. He was in their care and they didn’t take care of him.”
While it’s unclear exactly how the dog died, he was found with a bloody blanket in his cage. Dellegrazie’s lawyer, Evan Oshan, told The Associated Press that the dog’s carrier was returned washed, which possibly eliminated evidence.
The family is now waiting on necropsy results.
Recent animal cases on airlines
Oshan also represented the owners of a French bulldog puppy that died earlier this year, after a United Airlines flight attendant ordered the dog’s carrier to be stowed in an overhead bin.
In 2017, 18 animals died while being transported on United. There were six cases on all other U.S. carriers combined, according to the Department of Transportation.
United shortened the list of animals it will carry in May, limiting it to only cats and dogs, and declining several breeds. The changes don’t affect pets in the cabin.
— With files from The Associated Press