French Bulldog dies from heat stroke after Virgin Airlines leaves him 'on the tarmac in scorching temperatures for up to 40 minutes'
Kristina and Neil Maccabee were returning home after visiting their family in Townsville to find that their dog had died during the flight
A French Bulldog died at Sydney Airport after he was left on the tarmac in blistering temperatures, leaving his owners in tears.
Kristina and Neil Maccabee were returning home to Sydney on Boxing Day after visiting their family in Townsville, Northern Queensland, over Christmas, when they couldn't believe what they saw and heard when they got out of the airplane. "He was our family, he came everywhere with us, every moment shared. We love him more than anything and we are completely devastated," Kristina said.
The couple, who took Bruno everywhere with them, were forced to leave him with baggage handlers at Townsville Airport that morning as it was a public holiday, according to The Courier-Mail.
French Bulldogs have a restricted respiratory system owing to their flat-nosed face. Also, they find it harder to stay cool in hot environments. Neil said they had written down specific details in the paperwork they lodged with Virgin and even ensured that baggage handlers kept the water full before Bruno was put on the flight so he wouldn't dehydrate, Daily Mail reports.
But the couple were shocked after boarding the plane when they saw Bruno placed on the tarmac in scorching temperatures for up to 40 minutes. Unfortunately, their fears were realized when they landed at Sydney Airport and saw a Virgin employee stand in front of them, face down.
"I went to the cargo terminal to pick him up. The girl behind the counter could not make eye contact with me and my heart sank," Kristina said. "I just wanted to hold Bruno and I could see that he has obviously suffered, he got on the plane all fresh and he was all sweaty and had been sick and his water container was empty."
Virgin Airlines shouldn't have glossed over the safekeeping and health of animals despite it being a public holiday, the couple said. Kristina said her dog's life was treated on the same level as someone who lost their luggage. A subsequent autopsy at RSPCA revealed that heat stroke was the cause of Bruno's death.
But Virgin has maintained throughout the investigation that after reviewing CCTV footage, it found Bruno was held in a shaded area and was fully hydrated all the time.
Daily Mail Australia was told by the airline that guests must sign a waiver if they want to organize travel with brachycephalic pets in order to make them aware of the risks involved.
Speaking to the outlet, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said: "We are very sorry to hear of Bruno’s passing, as our team takes great care and pride in ensuring guest’s beloved pets are safely transported around the country. We are taking this matter very seriously and investigating how it occurred. Virgin Australia adheres to stringent guidelines when transporting pets and we regularly review our handling processes to ensure that the highest standard of care is undertaken."