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June 14, 2017

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Pet dog found dead after flight on China Eastern

A CHINESE airline is investigating the in-flight death of a dog it had transported as cargo.

The case has cast further negative light on China Eastern Airlines just days after one of its aircraft made an emergency landing in Sydney due to a hole in an engine casing.

The dog was a 3-year-old golden retriever called Doudou. Its owner had hired a pet transportation agency to send the animal from Shenzhen to Wuhan, where the owner’s parents live.

China Eastern Airlines, the company chosen by the agent, transports live animals as freight in the cargo hold, not in the cabin with passengers.

“I told the agent to take extra care with Doudou because I had heard of cases of animals dying during flight,” said the owner, surnamed Zuo. But when Zuo’s father arrived to collect the dog, he found it was dead.

“My father sent me photos. The bars of the cage were bent and covered with bite marks. It must have been in pain,” said Zuo.

Zuo posted her complaint on social media, arousing a heated discussion among the country’s growing number of pet lovers.

“Was there a problem with the air-conditioning or oxygen in the cargo space?” was one comment.

“No one knows what exactly happened. The whole process was not properly supervised, nor transparent,” was another.

A spokesman for China Eastern Airlines said Doudou and another dog were transported together in the flight’s pressurized cargo space. When the plane arrived in Wuhan, Doudou appeared lifeless but the other dog was in a good condition.

The spokesman said the airline will work with the pet transportation agency to determine the cause of death, but it refused to take responsibility as the agent had signed a form releasing the airline from liability.

The agency offered compensation of 5,000 yuan (US$736), which Zuo refused. Zuo has been advised to go to court.

Warnings have been posted online by people telling pet owners to think twice about transporting pets by air.


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