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Dog Freezes to Death in Flight

Written by PETA | November 17, 2011

© Anthony Aneese Totah Jr |

The last time that John and Julia Von Achen saw their beloved dog, J, alive, they were boarding a flight from Moscow to New York. When the Von Achens disembarked, they discovered that their dog had apparently frozen to death in the cargo hold during the 11-hour flight.

“He’s part of our family. I’m heartbroken, devastated, destroyed,” said John Von Achen Jr. “They killed our dog.” Freezing aside (which can happen when temperature controls fail and external temperature at altitude can be -50 or worse), animals are in grave danger in plane cargo holds, but boxers, bulldogs, and pugs like J are at an especially high risk since their short muzzles make breathing difficult under any even slightly stressful or abnormal circumstances. Putting an animal in a cargo hold is often a death sentence, as they can turn into freezers in the air and, during delays on scorching summer days, into ovens on the ground, causing death from heat prostration. It happens all the time.

“It seems the airlines are not equipped and they’re not really set up to handle pets, but they take the money anyway,” Van Achen said, adding, “I’ll never fly with a pet again.”

J was far from the first dog to perish in a cargo hold, and he won’t be the last. If you are planning to travel with your animals over the Thanksgiving holiday or at any time, please keep their feet safely on the ground and travel by car or, if they are small enough, fly them in the cabin with you.


Written by Michelle Sherrow

Commenting is closed.
  • ck says:

    Who didn’t check the cargo to “insure” the safety of the animals? Whoever should be fired for not doing their job. No benefits when you get fired because you decided to be stupid and treat animals like they’re not living. Whoever was in charge of the animals should be fired and whoever doesn’t fire him/her/them should be fired, too. There are plenty of competent and caring people who would choose to have a job with animals just to insure they are cared for and kept safe. You took money to take care of the animal. The animal died, the family member died because of your uncaring and/or incompetence. Yes, it was a huge mistake. Was the in-action to not supply enough heat an accident, or was it murder?

  • Urania says:

    MOST babies and kids are quite MORE ANNOYING than any Animal, but they do not have to travel in the cargo holds, do they? What I mean is: WHAT is the problem of Animals flying in the cabin with their owners? Airlanes have business class, first class, so.. they SHOULD make a special area for people traveling with Animals.

  • simplemedia says:

    Ya really dear i agree with you, All dogs should be allowed to fly in the cabin with their owners

  • Andrus says:

    i didn’t understand why humans behave cruelty to animals

  • Jess says:

    This is something for airlines to consider. I had my bluetick pup shipped to me 6 months ago and was a nervous wreck until I actually saw him alive on the ground. After being that nervous (and I didn’t realize how nervous I would be until he was on the plane) I will NEVER fly a dog in the cargo hold again. I would love nothing more than to be able to bring my boys on the plane. We have family that lives 1200 miles away and want to visit them for the holidays… If the dogs can’t come with us due to having nowhere to stay for the whole vacation that is pet friendly, they will be staying with our vet tech friend in our own apartment. If they CAN come there is no way we will be flying. The only way you could get me to put my dogs on a plane in cargo would be if my husband is stationed overseas and we are all going with him and, even then, we would do our absolute best and see what we could do about finding a plane that welcomes them into the cabin. I have indeed heard about certain airlines changing their policies concerning pets in the cabin.

  • Kim K says:

    I notice you left out the fact it was a small breed of a dog, which it was pure-bred pug dog.

  • jleam says:

    Makes me sick to read something like this. All it takes is a little research to learn the ‘death sentence you are subjecting your pet to. If your pet can’t travel in the cabin with you don’t put them in a cargo hold. So sor ry for the family but they should have known better.



  • tom moore says:

    This is so felony wrong.