American Airlines Launches Investigation into Dead Puppies

American Airlines will talk to the employees that handled them.

Seven puppies are dead after traveling aboard an American Airlines plane to O’Hare International Airport Tuesday, prompting an investigation by the carrier.

The puppies were among 14 that were traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Chicago. Flight 851 left Tulsa at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at O’Hare around 9 a.m. the airline confirmed.  

Five of the young pups died on board and two died later on at a veterinarian's office.

“The employees that handled the flight will be in Wednesday,” American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said.  "We'll be talking with them this afternoon."

Wednesday morning, American Airlines tweeted the following: 

"We are very sorry for the loss of 7 puppies in Chicago on 8/3/10. Teams are actively investigating 2 find out what happened."

Carter Dillard, director of litigation at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said the FAA and USDA should also investigate the incident.

According to the ALDF, animal deaths by airplane are unfortunately common. Since May of 2005, there have been 142 reported deaths.

"We don't recommend pets traveling that way," Lisa Franzetta, director of communications for the ALDF, said. "The cargo areas are not temperature controlled, and especially in the winter and summer months, they can be uninhabitable." 

Fagan said the dogs looked lethargic, and were scheduled to be loaded onto connecting flights for destinations outside of Chicago.

Dillard recommends owners to carry their pets with them in the cabin, or use pet-friendly airlines such as Companion Air, to save pets from neglect.

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