A Florida family has claimed that their beloved dog ‘literally fried’ to death while flying inside a United Airlines cargo hold.
John Paul Ciancimino, 45, of Florida, told The Sun that his family’s Belgian Malinois, Rock, died during an August 2017 United flight from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, while the pooch was being transported in the plane’s cargo hold.
During a stopover at New Jersey’s Newark Airport, the airline was said to have discovered that there had been an ‘an emergency’ situation involving the dog.
The Ciancimino family said that their beloved pet, Rock (pictured with nine-year-old Jon), died because it was being transported inside a United Airlines cargo hold that was too hot
A necropsy indicated that Rock (pictured with Alysse, five) suffered heatstroke, which led to his death and that his antemortem body temperature was 106 degrees
The airline told the New York Post that workers ‘discovered that the dog injured itself while chewing through and escaping his kennel during the flight.’
United said that Rock was taken straight to a local animal hospital for treatment, but that the dog died anyway.
Ciancimino said that Rock died because the cargo hold was hot as an oven.
‘He was fried – they literally fried him,’ told The Sun. ‘He was completely blind by the time they found him.”
A necropsy obtained by the New York Post, via Ciancimino’s lawyer, Evan Oshan, revealed that Rock – a trained protection dog – ‘had an antemortem body temperature of 106 degrees F’ and that the findings suggested ‘heatstroke led to the death of this dog.’
The dog was said to have been in agony when it collapsed, prior to his organs shutting down.
United Airlines said that the cargo hold was temperature controlled but that Rock (with Jon) had injured itself while chewing through and escaping his kennel during the flight
Rock (with Alysse, left) was said to be a highly-trained protection canine that was traveling from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the time of the incident. Owner John Paul Ciancimino (right) said his children were devastated by the dog’s death
United said that it refunded the travel costs and paid for veterinary bills, but Ciancimino family said that they have not been reimbursed and noted that it cost $68,000 to train Rock
United said that it was ‘saddened by Rock’s passing’ and a spokesperson denied that the cargo hold was excessively hot, noting that Rock had been traveling in a temperature-controlled cargo hold at the time of the incident.
The airline said that it’s PetSafe team is committed to the safety and comfort of all the pets that travel with us’ and noted that, in 2018, United had overhauled its PetSafe program in conjunction with American Humane, in an effort ‘to find ways to improve safety.’
After Rock died, the airline said that it reached out to the Ciancimino family and ‘refunded the travel costs, as well as covering all related veterinary bills.’
Rock was a Belgian Malinois
However, Oshan told the New York Post that the family had not received any reimbursement yet.
Ciancimino described Rock as having been a ‘member of the family’ and ‘very loving and affectionate.’
He said that his children, Jon, nine, and Alysse, five, are ‘devastated’ by the dog’s death and that Jon ‘always talks about him. He was heartbroken.’
Ciancimino said that ‘one in a million’ Rock – was flying back from Boston, where he had been receiving training as a protection canine, to the family’s home in Fort Lauderdale at the time of the incident.
All told, Ciancimino said that he had spent at least $68,000 on the dog’s training fees, but that he isn’t speaking out about the money, which he hasn’t been reimbursed for yet.
‘It’s not a matter of money,’ he told The Sun. ‘It’s the fact that there was never an acknowledgement of what they’ve done. They treat your pets – your loved ones – as a piece of luggage.’
Oshan is asking United to ‘do the right thing’ by the family, because ‘no living things should die the way Rock died.’
In 2017, the US Department of Transportation found that 18 pets died while traveling on United. Only two pets per airline died while flying on American Airlines, Delta and Alaska Airlines.