Florida family says their pet dog 'fried' to death on United Airlines flight after it was put in hot cargo hold

Rock, the family's dog, died during an August 2017 flight from Boston to Fort Lauderdale while he was being transported in the plane's cargo hold.


                            Florida family says their pet dog 'fried' to death on United Airlines flight after it was put in hot cargo hold

Florida native John Paul Ciancimino, 45, has said that their beloved pet Belgian Malinois "literally fried" to death while flying on the cargo hold of a United Airlines plane. 

Ciancimino said the family dog, Rock, died during an August 2017 UA flight from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, while he was being transported in the plane's cargo hold. The airline was said to have discovered that there had been "an emergency" situation involving the dog during a stopover at New Jersey's Newark Airport. 

The airline said the workers "discovered that the dog injured itself while chewing through and escaping his kennel during the flight," according to New York Post. United also said Rock was taken straight to a local animal hospital for treatment, but he died. Ciancimino said Rock died because the cargo was too hot for him. 

"He was fried – they literally fried him. He was completely blind by the time they found him," he told The Sun. He said the death of the “one-in-a-million” Belgian Malinois left his kids Jon, 9, and Alysse, 5, “devastated.”

John Paul Ciancimino's family shared a bond with Rock (Image: John Paul Ciancimino)

"Rock was a member of the family. He was a special dog… he was very loving and affectionate,” Ciancimino said. “My son always talks about him. He was heartbroken", he said. 

The necropsy obtained by New York Post via Ciancimino's lawyer, Evan Oshan, revealed that the trained protection dog "had an antemortem body temperature of 106 degrees F" and that the findings suggested that the "heatstroke led to the death of this dog." In a painful end, the dog was said to have been in agony when it collapsed before his organs shut down. 

Ciancimino said that he spent at least $68,000 on Rock’s training, but compensation from the airline for the family's loss is still to come. In a statement released by the airlines, they said that they were “saddened by Rock's passing.”

“Our PetSafe team is committed to the safety and comfort of all the pets that travel with us,” the airline told The Post. “Upon Rock’s arrival in Newark, our team discovered that the dog injured itself while chewing through and escaping his kennel during the flight. We immediately transported Rock to a local animal hospital for medical care, where he passed away."

"When this unfortunate passing occurred, we were in contact with the customer and refunded the travel costs, as well as covering all related veterinary bills," the statement continued. 

Oshan urged the carrier to "do the right thing” as “no living thing should die the way Rock died," the outlet reported. Oshan is known to have represented several animal lovers whose beloved pets have died on planes.

John Paul Ciancimino (Image: John Paul Ciancimino)

Charles Hobart, the airlines' representative, said the cargo hold where the dog was placed was temperature-controlled and not excessively hot, as claimed by the family. "Last year, we also overhauled our PetSafe program with American Humane to find ways to improve safety," Hobart said referring to the country’s first national humane animal organization. He added that the airlines would like customers to be fully aware of the risks involved when transporting pets. "It is risky and it is stressful for them," he said.

UA doesn't have a good record when it comes to transporting pets. According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2017, 18 pets died on United flights compared to two each on American, Delta and Alaska. 

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