Maggie Rizer is mourning the loss of her beloved two-year-old golden retriever, Beatrice, who died of heatstroke on a United Airlines flight.
The model blames the airliner for the death in a post on Bea Makes Three, a blog she had created for her pet, who was a wedding gift for Rizer and her husband Alex Mehran.
"Two weeks ago, on our way back to San Francisco after a great summer vacation on the east coast, Beatrice lost her life due to the negligence of United Airlines," she says. "I’m writing this with my anger aside, in the hopes that someone looking for advice will read this and not make the mistake of trusting United with their pets as we did."
Prior to the flight, Rizer writes, Beatrice "had a perfect health record. She received a full examination and a health certificate four days before the flight, as is required by the Pet Safe program. The program is United's branded on-board pet safety program."
Rizer and Mehran also made a six-hour drive from their upstate New York home to New York City to ensure both Beatrice and the couple's other dog, Albert, who is seven years old, wouldn't have to make a connecting flight. In addition, "Their kennels were purchased specifically for the measurements and design specified by Pet Safe. We purchased special water bowls which we filled with ice to ensure that the water wouldn’t spill and that it would last longer."
When the plane landed, the couple learned the worst: they "were told simply, 'one of them is dead' by the emotionless worker who seemed more interested in his text messages," she writes. "It took thirty minutes for a supervisor to come to tell us, 'it was the two year old.'"
When the pair requested that Beatrice be returned to them, staff responded that she'd been delivered to a local veterinarian for an autopsy. However, "Over the next two hours the supervisor’s lie unraveled as it became clear that Bea was right behind a closed door the whole time and he had been discussing how to handle the potential liability with his boss who had left and sticking to the divert and stall tactic that they had been taught."
Rizer and Mehran later retrieved her body and took her to their own vet, who concluded she had died from heatstroke. According to Rizer, the doctor said "it is not unusual for a single dog in airline transit to be affected while other dogs of the same breed survive the trip apparently unscathed."
According to Rizer, United had informed her that the company's "internal investigation showed no irregularities, as evidenced by the fact that your companion dog and other animals on board did not suffer the same fate." She remarks: "I'm not sure why the fact that the other dogs were not killed clears United Airlines but, they seem to think it does."
United has responded to Rizer's comments in a statement to People.com.
"We understand that the loss of a beloved pet is difficult and express our condolences to Ms. Rizer and her family for their loss. After careful review, we found there were no mechanical operational issues with Bea's flight and also determined she was in a temperature-controlled environment for her entire journey. We would like [to] finalize the review but are unable until we receive a copy of the necropsy."
Rizer, meanwhile, doesn't plan on filing a lawsuit against the airliner but aims to raise awareness of flight safety conditions for animals.