Pup Suffers from Lack of Oxygen on Plane, Flight Crew's Quick Thinking Saves Her Life


For many people, pets are a part of the family. They’re not just animals left outside or creatures that they share a bond with — they’re family, and treated as such.

That means they often come along on trips, which range from short jaunts to the grocery store to flying cross-country.

You’ve probably seen them before or heard suspicious yips coming from too-large purses. Some stores like Lowes and Home Depot welcome four-legged friends, but other times pets are smuggled in.

Over the years, as pets have become more integral a part of our daily lives, transportation services have upped their games. Airports now offer patches of fake grass topped with fire hydrants, and lots of places provide bowls of water and dog treats.

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But there are still mishaps. Just recently, a passenger on a United flight lost their French bulldog puppy because the attendant insisted that it be stowed in the overhead bin.

While this could be dangerous for any kind of dog, it’s especially dangerous for brachycephalic dogs — dogs with short faces. That includes pugs, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, and shih tzus, to name a few.

These dogs have a difficult time regulating their internal temperature and breathing in the first place, so travel — especially when temperature fluctuates or pressure/altitude changes — can be dangerous.

“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred,” United commented about the incident with the puppy, “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.”

“At the end of the flight, the woman found her dog, deceased,” said a woman who’d been sitting nearby. “She sat in the airplane aisle on the floor crying, and all of surrounding passengers were utterly stunned.”

So when Steven and Michelle Burt were traveling recently with their French bulldog, Darcy, they noticed immediately when she started to get lethargic.

But this time, the attendants helped. They brought water, some ice, and even used the human oxygen mask on the 3-year-old bulldog to help increase her oxygen levels.

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“It actually fit her face really well because she’s got a round face,” Michelle said. “You couldn’t help but notice the change in her eyes. I know it’s not a child or a person but she is a family member. I just felt very grateful.”

The Burts had Darcy with them in the cabin (since it’s dangerous for these kinds of dogs to be held in the cargo hold), so they were able to notice immediately when something was wrong, but thankfully everyone worked together to keep little Darcy healthy and happy.

If you have to travel with your dog, make sure to check airline requirements ahead of time and know your breed so you can look out for warning signs, like this couple was able to do.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking