Flight attendants soothe anxious dog with an oxygen mask after it started to turn blue due to respiratory issues

3-year-old French bulldog, Darcy, was treated for hypoxia, which is a deficiency of oxygen that can be fatal. The quick-thinking of a flight attendant saved the day.

                            Flight attendants soothe anxious dog with an oxygen mask after it started to turn blue due to respiratory issues
(Source:Getty Images)

According to one report that was released, a 3-year-old French bulldog suffered some respiratory issues on a JetBlue flight but was saved thanks to the quick-thinking by the crew members. The dog, Darcy, and her owner were on a flight from Florida to Massachusetts in July when all of a sudden, the dog's gums and tongue started turning blue while she was inside her carrier. Michael Burt, the owner, wrote in a heartwarming thank you note to JetBlue that was later posted on Facebook: “We all are affected by cabin pressure and oxygen fluctuations, human, canine and feline, etc., but the fact that the Attendants were responsive and attentive to the situation may have saved Darcy’s life." Two of the flight attendants were the ones who responded to the desperate scene on the flight and took ice bags to help the dog as well as help her breathe with an oxygen mask.

As with most things these days, photos from the incident went viral on social media and they showed Darcy sitting in a seat by the window with the yellow oxygen mask on her snout. ABC News reported that the dog was being treated for hypoxia while on the flight which is a deficiency of oxygen that can be fatal. Burt wrote in the post: “I placed the mask over her face, and within a few minutes she became alert and after a short time she didn’t want the mask. I believe [flight attendants] Renaud and Diane saved a life, some may reduce the value of the life because Darcy is a canine, I do not.”

The gushing owner continued to say that the two flight attendants, who came to the rescue, “were the helpers today. It may have been only a ‘dog’ to some, not a major disaster certainly, but a family member to us. Goodness and kindness along with the ability to assess a medical crisis, albeit a canine in crisis saved the day.” According to the letter he wrote, Darcy has "made a complete recovery" since the incident.

Renaud Fenster, one of the flight attendants who helped save Darcy's life on board, told ABC's "Good Morning America" on July 9 that he had "never seen anything like this" in his lengthy 15-year career in the airline industry. He said: “I was passing through the cabin to check up on a passenger, and I noticed [another] passenger, who had the dog out of her crate and the dog had an indication that it wasn’t looking too well … And I believe the dog passed out."  

“The dog started panting very rapidly and uncontrollably, and so as a French bulldog owner myself, I knew the dog was overheating and needed some ice. I brought the dog some ice, and that didn’t do anything.” The flight attendant said that he “decided that we needed to consider using oxygen to support the animal.” He said: “So I called the captain, and I told him, ‘I think I need to use some oxygen,’ and he said, ‘Go ahead.’ And right then and there, placed the oxygen on the dog and the dog revived like nothing else."

The airline company JetBlue said in a statement following the incident: “We all want to make sure everyone has a safe and comfortable fight, including those with four legs. We’re thankful for our crew’s quick thinking and glad everyone involved was breathing easier when the plane landed in Worcester.”

In another incident involving a French bulldog, but one that ended in tragedy, a United Airlines flight attendant forced a passenger to put her dog in the overhead bin for the three-hour flight, which resulted in the animal's death. Maggie Gremminger, another passenger on the same flight from Houston to LaGuardia Airport, New York, uploaded a photo of the owners on Twitter.

It was reported that the flight attendant had told the owner to put her dog, which was in a TSA-approved pet carrier, that she had to put the dog into an overhead bin for the rest of the flight. Other passengers on the flight could hear the dog barking from the overhead bin for some time after he was put in there but found out that he died only after the flight landed.

Another passenger, June Lara, wrote in a Facebook post: “There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10-month-old puppy.” The posts that both women had uploaded on different social media sites went viral almost immediately. United took a massive blow online for the harsh decision by one flight attendant. One user on Twitter wrote: “Another reason I will never ever fly or support doing business with United Airlines!”

A spokesperson for United discussed the incident in a statement which read: “This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”

It was reported that the policy for carrying pets onboard a United flight is: “A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times.”