Snickers died last week, shortly after arrival at the Hartford airport aboard Delta Flight 738.
Airline officials had promised Heather Lombardi, who had purchased the cat from a breeder in Utah and was having her delivered, that the cargo hold the cat would travel in was climate controlled.
If you can’t guess what happened next, here’s some additional information:
Snickers was 11 weeks old.
Snickers was a Sphynx, or hairless cat.
It is winter, and a particularly cold one.
Once a plane lands, the cargo area is depressurized, and that climate control stuff doesn’t apply anymore.
Lombardi sent out an email blast to tell the world about “the worst tragedy I have ever personally experienced” — not to gain pity, or money, or, we’d hope, bolster her odds in a lawsuit. Instead, she says, she wanted to inform the world of the dangers of shipping a cat, by air, in winter.
With her two children, Lombardi arrived at the airport and was told to wait in the baggage area. Fifty minutes passed after the flight landed, the delay in unloading baggage being caused at least partly by a cargo hold latch that was stuck, she was told.
“I wasn’t incredibly alarmed … I figured she would be fine as long as she wasn’t outdoors,” wrote Lombardi, who paid $290 to transport Snickers. Outdoors, it was 7 degrees.
Upon being handed the crate, Lombardi opened it and pulled Snickers out:
“The kitten was ICE cold, limp, and unresponsive. I IMMEDIATELY put her into my coat, grabbed my kids by the hands & ran out of the airport to get her into my car & cranked up the heat putting all vents on her as I rubbed her trying to warm her up. She couldn’t lift or control any limbs, her breathing was labored, she had a blank stare in her eyes, and she let out a meow. As if to say help me — please. We rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, but to my utter devastation, on the drive, she let out a blood curdling cry & went completely limp …”
Ten minutes after handing the apparently lifeless cat to the vet, Lombardi was informed that Snickers was indeed dead.
“Her last hour of life was spent frozen & unable to escape. I am so utterly devastated — I cannot express to anyone how this feels. I am so sad for her, her little 11 week life lost for no reason. A tragedy that could have been prevented if the airline had valued her little promising life.”
Delta told her it is investigating, but, she said, “the bottom line is that they can’t bring her back to me or my family, there is nothing they can say or do to make this whole. We don’t want a new kitten; we fell in love with HER. She was our new child & there is nothing that can be done to bring her home to us. Snickers lost her life unnecessarily … Value life everyone, I have just experienced something I pray no one else has too. Don’t let Snickers lost life be in vain, I pray you guys read this & maybe another animals life won’t be lost to the cold & lonely Delta Cargo holds.”
Reading over her summary of events, what stuns me most is that a customer would even consider having an 11-week-old hairless cat transported by air in the dead of winter. That the breeder would permit it is surprising as well. That Delta signed off on it is equally shocking.
So, much as we regret Snickers’ passing, we, unlike Lombardi, wouldn’t aim our anger solely at Delta. There appear to be plenty of humans to share the blame, including the one who — though her subsequent warning not to ship animals when it’s below 30 degrees is valid — probably should have done a little more research and used a little more common sense before having her new hairless cat placed on a plane.
And we have to wonder a little bit, too — coldhearted as it may be at her time of clearly anguishing loss — why, any allergies aside, someone would opt for a pricey, high-maintenance novelty pet from the other side of the country when hundreds of cats are in the Hartford area’s animal shelters, waiting for homes.
Heather Lombardi responds:
“… I first wanted to thank you for bringing attention to what happened to Snickers. Knowledge is power & even if you don’t agree with my actions & poor decision, not everyone knows or understands the risks of placing your pets in a climate controlled cargo hold. I myself was guilty of that. I do not place blame solely on Delta, my lack of knowledge & belief that travel was safe for animals in this weather was the obvious reason she was on the flight. It’s why I decided to share her story. She died due to my lack of knowledge & an obvious service failure on Delta’s behalf. I can’t control Delta, their practices or policies, what I can control is how I handle the situation. I choose to raise awareness, and I thank you for helping with that.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: age, air travel, airplanes, airport, animals, blast, breeders, cargo, cargo hold, cat, cold, death, delta, email, exposure, grief, hair, hairless, hartford, heather lombardi, kitten, loss, mourning, novelty, pets, shipping, snickers, sphynx, transporting, travel, traveling with pets, winter, young
Animal shelters, already swamped with dogs and cats, are bracing for an onslaught of guinea pigs as a result of the new Disney movie “G-Force.”
The movie depicts a squad of specially trained, guinea pig spies coming to the world’s rescue. But, says the Associated Press, it may end up being real-life guinea pigs who need rescuing.
Some guinea pig rescue groups, fearing a surge in guinea pig surrenders, already have posted pleas to the public to think twice before buying a guinea pig on the spur of the moment.
“I can tell you, every single rescue in the United States and abroad took a look at that movie trailer and said, ‘Oh, God, here we go,’ ” said Whitney Potsus, vice president of the Critter Connection in Durham, Conn.
The fears are based on past experience — from ”101 Dalmatians” sending thousands rushing to buy black-and-white spotted pups to surges in Chihuahua popularity after the moves “Legally Blonde” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”
“We can only hope … parents will all do their research before bringing any critters home. Otherwise, when the novelty wears off, rescues everywhere are going to have their hands full with surrenders,” Potsus said.
Activists say there are several waves of worry ahead: during the movie’s run in theaters, when it comes out on DVD and when the novelty wears off.
About 795,000 homes have guinea pigs as pets, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Disney is aware of the power of the movies and works to promote a strong pet responsibility message, a studio spokeswoman said. For “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” Disney made sure most of the animals in the movie came from shelters and each was adopted when the movie was over.
For “G-Force,” a statement is posted on the movie’s website and on other promotional materials, advising viewers to research any pet “to make sure that it is suitable for your particular situation” and consider adopting from a shelter.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelters, animal welfare, animals, beverly hills chihuahua, brace, chihuahuas, children, dalmatians, disney, fad, g-force, guinea pigs, legally blonde, movie, novelty, pets, popularity, rescue, surge
A Brazilian company called Petsmiling — and you’ll understand the smiling part in a second — has created a new toy for dogs: a sex doll.
Complete with a functioning female sex organ, the Doggie Lover Doll, was introduced at a pet expo in South America and will be hitting the market soon.
“I had the idea to make this doll when my Maltese started to grab everybody’s legs. I did some research and couldn’t find anything like it, anywhere in the world. I decided to make it!” said Marco Giroto, owner of the PetSmiling company.
Actually a doggie sex doll was announced in 2007 as a product that was soon to, um, arrive on the marketplace, but a visit to the Scruffy website reveals little information.
The website for the new Doggie Lover Doll is under construction.
To read the company’s full press release — and I understand if you don’t want to — feel free to continue.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: brazil, doggie lover doll, dogs, doll, female, marco giroto, marketing, novelty, pet, pet expo, petsmiling, products, rubber, scruffy, sex, toy, toys