Passenger's heartbreak after dog dies mid-flight
A heartbroken pet owner has urged for more to be done to protect pets on planes after his beloved dog died on a domestic Qantas flight.
Anthony Balletta said his one-year-old bulldog Frank died on QF405 from Sydney to Melbourne while travelling in a crate in the plane's cargo hold.
Mr Balletta said he paid $1100 to transport Frank on the flight just before Christmas.
"I had a little chat to him when I dropped him off. I said, 'You are going to be all right buddy' and he gave me a nod," Mr Balletta told The Daily Telegraph.
On arrival at Melbourne, Mr Balletta was devastated to learn Frank arrived lifeless in his transportation crate.
"He was in his crate, all small and helpless," he said.
"I just broke down."
A Qantas spokesman told news.com.au a review of the incident had found Frank had not been mishandled.
"We can understand for Mr Balletta and his family that what's occurred is very distressing," the spokesman said.
"An investigation found there were no issues on-board the aircraft or during the journey with all procedures followed."
Qantas customers who book their pets for travel are informed at the booking process that stub-nosed breeds, such as bulldogs, are considered high risk for air travel due to respiratory issues.
They are asked to sign a document prior to travel that acknowledges the risks associated with stub-nosed breeds.
Mr Balletta said he believed Frank - who had flown on a domestic flight before - struggled to breathe during the flight.
He suggested airlines that flew dogs in the cargo hold have trained vets accompany them to help if they fell ill.
"If they are going to accept dogs, they should look after them better," Mr Balletta told the Telegraph.
It is understood Qantas refunded Mr Balletta's transportation costs.
Qantas and Virgin Australia allow only service animals in the passenger cabin of flights.