A rescued dog named Paco who was flying from Mexico to his new furever home in Canada never arrived at his destination. As compensation, Delta Airlines initially offered his owners $200 for the pet transportation fee – in credit that would have to be spent on another Delta flight.
This is highly unlikely, since Paco’s owner says he will never do business with Delta again.
According to an email he sent to The Consumerist, a consumer advocacy website that first reported the story, Josiah Allen was vacationing with his girlfriend in Puerto Vallarta when the couple fell in love with the Dachshund-Jack Russell Terrier mix, who their hosts said frequently roamed the streets of the town.
“We took him to the vet’s, got him all of his shots, an eye infection treated, two baths to clean him from hundreds of dog ticks that were covering his whole body, and gave him the name Paco,” Allen wrote. ”After this treatment at the vet clinic, we had to spend multiple additional hours picking more ticks from his body. We soon discovered that this dog was a very lucky find … My girlfriend and I were both very excited to take him back home to Canada with us, and we quite readily paid for an airline-approved pet carrier and the costs associated with checking a pet on an airplane to travel as baggage, as he was too big to be taken as carry-on.”
After flying from Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City via Aeromexico on May 3, the couple walked Paco in the airport terminal and played with him before putting him in his carrier for the next leg of the trip: Mexico City to Detroit on Delta Airlines.
Allen wrote to The Consumerist that when the couple tried to check Paco for their connecting flight, a Delta agent told them the pet carrier wasn’t big enough. The couple had to sign a waiver releasing Delta of liability if Paco was injured. Allen agreed to sign it because the vet had said the carrier was large enough, and Paco could turn around and stand comfortably in it.
When the couple arrived at the Detroit airport, they waited for Paco at the pet claim for 20 minutes. A Delta employee then told them that the dog was not at the airport, and had actually never been boarded on the plane in Mexico City.
The employee said Paco “would be cared for by Delta employees and walked, fed, watered, and would be sent on the next flight to Detroit, and then get delivered to my house in Ontario, Canada,” Allen wrote.
But when Allen called Delta the next day regarding Paco’s status, no one seemed to know. His host in Puerto Vallerta spent hours on the phone with the Mexico City airport until an employee finally told her that Paco had escaped from his carrier and disappeared.
Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliot told CNN that Paco broke out of his carrier on the tarmac and ran away. Ramp agents chased Paco, but he escaped through a fence. Although Delta employees drove for several hours around the surrounding neighborhood, they could not find him. “Our staff have conducted exhaustive searches to locate the dog,” she said.
She couldn’t remember any other incidents where a dog was lost while traveling with his owners. “It’s very rare,” she said.
Allen doesn’t buy it. “I do not believe for a second that Paco escaped from his carrier,” he wrote. “It was a very secure, hard-plastic pet carrier with two locks and a metal wire door, and there is no way a small dog could scratch or break his way out of it.”
In an update, The Consumerist reported that Delta apologized to Allen and offered to reimburse him for the dog’s total cost, as well as provide two additional $200 vouchers for air travel on the airline. Allen said no thanks.
“Lost baggage is one thing, but a live animal…,” Allen said. He said that although the Delta rep he spoke with was compassionate and said she was a dog lover herself, that doesn’t bring Paco back.
While he appreciated the sentiment, it doesn’t bring Paco home. “”I am hopeful that Delta will be able … to locate and retrieve Paco and that he can come to my home and be loved and cared for,” Allen told CNN.