Third Dog Dies On Qantas Flight As Airline Suspends Travel For 'High-Risk' Breeds
A father says he is struggling to give his young children answers after their beloved family dog Nahla, became the third dog to die on a Qantas flight in the last month.
Mathew Taurima said his family has been left heartbroken after they received a phone call that Nahla had not survived her four-hour flight from Darwin to Brisbane late last week.
Nahla, a four-year-old Shar Pei x French Mastiff x British Bulldog, was put on a midday flight on Thursday and was due to land in Brisbane just hours before her family, who had recently relocated to Queensland, flew in after her.
Taurima said he and his 13-year-old daughter had dropped Nahla off to the airport earlier in the day after the family hired an external dog-handling company that would liaise Nahla's travel with Qantas.
Sadly, Nahla didn't survive the flight.
Taurima told 10 daily the family had been told Nahla was doing fine before the flight.
"As soon as they opened the capsule they said they noticed she was quite rigid," Taurima said he had been told by the handling company.
"So that means she had been passed for quite a while, so they couldn't ascertain what had happened in the flight."
Taurima said he knew that snub-nosed breeds like Nahla's were susceptible to respiratory problems and his family had signed a waiver before the flight, but said a vet had signed off on Nahla's travels only a week prior.
He told 10 daily the family had been left in the dark by the airline and believes Qantas isn't doing enough to investigate what happened.
"We paid more for our dog to be transferred from Darwin to Brisbane than we did our whole family of 6," he said.
But with Nahla now cremated-- as Taurima said he wanted to give his children a sense of closure -- it may prove difficult to establish exactly how she died.
"Looking back now... I put her in that box," he told 10 daily.
"I shouldn't have."
"My daughters are now blaming themselves and that's something we will carry as a family," he continued, adding Nahla had been like a best friend to his children, especially his four-year-old daughter.
Taurima said all of the family's communication with the airline had thus far been through the company they hired to help with Nahla's transport arrangements.
Hours after Taurima's family received the news of Nahla's death, Qantas released a statement to the media saying the airline's freight was suspending transportation of snub-nosed breed dogs for two weeks as it prepared to introduce policy changes around pet travel.
The airline said it planned to introduce additional precautions to help reduce risk when transporting "higher risk" snub-nosed dog breeds, including boxers, bulldogs and pugs.
As part of the raft of new changes, the airline said it would be introducing a mandatory requirement for all snub-nosed dogs to be cleared to fly by a registered vet "immediately" prior to travel.
Additionally, it promised to provide more protection for animals when they were out on the tarmac including reviewing of airport equipment and reinforcing existing procedures to minimise the amount of time vulnerable breeds spent on the tarmac, particularly in extreme weather.
Qantas, which transports around 40,000 pets domestically every year including 2,000 snub-nosed dogs, says it already has an existing policy in place which recommends transporting snub-nosed breeds at temperatures below 20 degrees and allows owners to rebook their pet in the event of extreme weather.
Qantas Freight’s Chief Customer Officer Nick McGlynn said the new requirements would balance the ability for owners to travel with their pets while ensuring animal welfare.
“These types of dogs are hugely popular but unfortunately they are high-risk flyers due to their respiratory system and breathing problems," McGlynn said.
"The risk is even higher in hot conditions and this summer we’ve seen a tragic spike in deaths of snub-nose dogs in extreme weather.”
On Friday, 10 daily spoke to Qantas who confirmed that a dog had died on one of its planes traveling from Darwin to Brisbane on Thursday.
A spokesperson said it would be contacting the Taurima family to offer support.
On Sunday, Taurima said Qantas had not yet contacted his family.
He insisted more needed to be done by the airline to give owners the necessary policy information before they allow their pets to be transported.
"If you're a professional about your work and you actually give a s**** about these animals, there needs to be more guidance for people who don't know," he said.
I just assumed there would be someone there to look after our animal.
Taurima said his family has been left even more distraught after finding out about the deaths of two other snub-nosed dogs on domestic Qantas flights just weeks before theirs.
Kay Newman said her six-year-old dog was left for an extended period of time on the tarmac on a particularly hot day on December 19, during a flight delay.
In a series of heartbreaking Facebook posts, Newman detailed how she had tried numerous times to raise the issue with Qantas staff but was told her Boxer dog, Duke, was doing ok.
By the time her flight reached Brisbane from Sydney, Duke had sadly died.
"I was beside myself, all I could do was scream 'no, no, no'. I demanded to see Duke because I didn’t want to believe what was happening," Newman recalled.
Last week Qantas told 10 daily there had been an "unexpected delay" on Kay's flight, resulting in Duke being left on the tarmac for longer than usual.
"We have expressed our sympathies to Kay about the passing of her dog, Duke."
The spokesperson said Kay had been refunded the cost of Duke's ticket.
Following the distressing ordeal, Newman has started a petition calling on Qantas to change their current animal care standards and procedures. It has so far gained more than 74,000 signatures.
Earlier in December, another dog died on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Melbourne.
Anthony Balletta told The Daily Telegraph he broke down after he was told his one-year-old bulldog Frank did not survive the short flight.
Balletta called for trained vets to fly in cargo holds with animals in case they become ill, a suggestion Qantas has rejected.
A spokesperson for the airline said another dog was also travelling on the same flight without incident.
"We can understand for Mr Balletta and his family that what’s occurred is very distressing," they said when contacted last week.
"An investigation found there were no issues onboard the aircraft or during the journey with all procedures followed."
Taurima said he still has no real answers to give his young children, but said he refused to let Nahla's death go by without proper explanation.
"We just don't want that to happen to another animal," he said.
"We don't think they're taking it seriously."