'I dropped to the floor': Dog owner devastated after beloved pet dies on Qantas flight

A Sydney man is heartbroken after his pet dog died on a domestic Qantas flight over Christmas.

Anthony Balletta told news.com.au he was flying from Sydney to Melbourne just before Christmas via Qantas and paid $1100 to take his bulldog Frank with him. But sadly, Frank never made it.

“I dropped to the floor, they had to carry me out of the airport,” he told news.com.au.

Mr Balletta also told Mail Online it felt like someone had “plunged me with a sword”.

Speaking to News Corp he recalled how he told his “buddy” that he was going to be OK before they loaded the pooch into the cargo hold.

Anthony Balletta's bulldog Frank died during a Qantas flight. Source: Facebook/ Anthony Balletta

Mr Balletta is now devastated his little mate is no longer by his side.

“I never thought I could love someone as much as I loved Frank,” he told news.com.au

Qantas has restrictions on snub-nosed dog breeds including various bulldogs.

“We can understand for Mr Balletta and his family that what’s occurred is very distressing,” a Qantas spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

“An investigation found there were no issues onboard the aircraft or during the journey with all procedures followed.”

During the booking process, Qantas passengers travelling with snub-nosed dogs are warned they are at high risk due to their respiratory systems. Passengers are also asked to sign a document acknowledging their understanding of the risks.

Sadly, Mr Balletta wasn’t the only Qantas customer to lose their beloved dog over the holiday period.

Kay Newman, wrote on Facebook that her boxer dog, named Duke, recently died while on board a delayed Qantas flight.

Ms Newman explained that Duke boarded a plane on December 19 as temperatures hit 40 degrees in Sydney as she was departing for Brisbane. She was concerned about Duke being out on the tarmac for too long.

“I alerted Qantas staff of my concerns over Duke being out in the heat, but I was assured that he was fine and would be loaded shortly,” she wrote.

“I kept waiting at the window as passengers started to board. I became extremely distressed and started to cry as I once again told Qantas staff of my concerns about Duke being out in the heat all this time and explained that Boxers don't tolerate heat very well.”

Duke also died on a Qantas flight. Source: Facebook/ Kay Newman

Ms Newman claims she was told Duke would be fine as the cargo hold was air conditioned. However after landing, she learned her dog had died.

A Qantas spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia in a statement there was an “unexpected delay” with the flight which meant Duke was on the tarmac for longer, but baggage handlers had said he was “fine” as the pooch was loaded onto the aircraft.

“We have expressed our sympathies to Kay about the passing of her dog, Duke,” the spokesperson said.

“Snub nosed dogs, such as boxers, bulldogs and pugs can suffer from respiratory issues which means they are at a higher risk when travelling by air.”

In a petition calling for improvements to the procedures Qantas has in place for travelling dogs, she claimed “Duke's death was 100% preventable”.

A French bulldog named Bruno also died in 2018 on board a Virgin Australia domestic flight.

Veterinarian Dr Lizzie Gan told Yahoo News Australia at the time it can be tricky to fly with any pet, but breeds like these with flat-nose faces are most at risk.

“They have difficulty dispelling heat or expelling heat from their narrowed airways and therefore any brachycephalic is at risk of overheating,” Dr Gan said. 

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