A dog left out on the tarmac in full sun during a recent heatwave in Australia has died. Duke, a boxer who normally resides with his human mum, Kay, in Sydney, was being transported on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Brisbane when he was left outside for a time in 40° plus heat. It did not end well.
Dog left out on hot tarmac for extended period of time
According to a report in 9News, Duke was Brisbane bound on 19 December 2019. Temperatures were hovering in the high thirties but out on the tarmac at Sydney Airport, it would have been hotter.
Duke’s human mum, Kay Newman, stayed with Duke until he was taken out in his crate to be loaded onto the plane. Qantas said it always loads animals last and offloads them first and that Duke would not be outside for more than a few minutes.
But Ms. Newman could see Duke in his crate on the tarmac and she reckons he was out there for at least fifteen minutes. A flight attendant had the captain contact the ground crew who checked on Duke. A message came back that he was fine.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case. It is only a sixty-minute flight up to Brisbane but when Ms. Newman touched down, she was told Duke had died.
“I heard the words I never wanted to hear, ‘We have some bad news, I’m sorry but your dog didn’t survive the flight and has passed away.
“All I could do was scream no, no, no. I demanded to see Duke because I didn’t want to believe what was happening.
“Duke was still in the crate and when I reached in and put my arms around him, I knew immediately why he died because the heat coming from the underside of his body, and the bottom of his crate was immense.”
Apologies from Qantas
Qantas has since apologized to Ms. Newman. In a statement, a Qantas spokesperson said;
“We have expressed our sympathies to Kay about the passing of her dog, Duke.
“There was an unexpected delay with the flight which meant he was on the tarmac for longer than usual but our baggage handlers said Duke was fine when he was loaded onto the aircraft.”
Qantas makes the point that breeds such as boxers are particularly susceptible to heat stress and asks owners to sign waivers if such breeds are going to be transported for extended periods. Ms. Newman disputes that boxers are any more vulnerable than other dogs. His death was preventable, she said, and the airline prioritized luggage and cargo over her dog.
Not the only dog that died
Duke’s death happened days after another dog died while being transported on Qantas. Frank, a bulldog owned by Anthony Balletta, died while traveling from Sydney to Melbourne. Mr. Balletta had said;
“I never thought I could love someone as much as I loved Frank. He came into work with me every day, he used to make everyone smile.”
Unlike countries such as the United States, Australia is quite strict about allowing animals into cabins. Support animals or animals masquerading as such don’t get a look in – they travel like Duke and Frank in a crate in the cargo hold. The only exceptions are bona fide service animals such as guide dogs.
But the incident does suggest that more thought could be put into handling animals during extreme weather days.