Wednesday, September 1, 2004

We made it to NC, but MAJOR MAJOR doggie drama!

We got here on Sunday and we're in our house since Monday. We LOVE it! We love the neighborhood, the area, the shopping, the hospitality--it's all great!'s where the need for animal rights attorney comes in...long story, but would you expect anything less from me? LOL

Okay, so we knew that it would be hard on the animals to travel. They are both VERY attached to me (much like the kids!) and are a bit neurotic (much like me).

Our doggie, as you guys know, has been through a lot. In foster care forever, cataracts (half blind), breast cancer surgery a couple of months ago, the list goes on. So, at first, I had considered even finding her a new home to avoid traveling with her and putting her through more as she is too big to go as carry on on the plane, so she would need to go in the cargo slot, which I was a bit nervous of. Luckily, we came to our senses before the move and realized that we couldn't leave her behind and despite the trip, she was better off with us. The cat was to go carry on under our seat in her regulation cage.

Our flight was to leave San Diego, connecting in Dallas at around noon and on to Charlotte, NC. From the forecast, it had been mid-high 90s and would be all weekend in Dallas. We knew that if the temp in ANY of the connecting cities was over 85, she couldn't fly cargo on our plane, airline regulations. I called the airline a few days ahead of our flight with our dilemma. They said that they routinely fly dogs on separate flights that connect in cities without excessive heat. Since the forecast in Chicago was only in the 70's, they found her a flight that connected there, leaving SD at the same time as us and getting into Charlotte about an hour after us. COOL! We went ahead and booked her on that. It was different than the cargo hold on a passenger plane, more like how you ship parcels, but we were assured that this is standard for shipping animals.

Fast forward to Sunday. We get to the airport with all of our health documents, her in her kennel, food, water, padding in the kennel, all of that. we check her in at 5:30am pacific and we clarify with the guy checking her in that she will be in Charlotte at a certain time (approx 5:30pm est). Then we're good to go.

We get on our plane with the kids, the cat and way too much stuff. We get into Charlotte at about 4:30pm est. We wait around for our doggie after getting our luggage and she doesn't show up on the 5:30 flight. We went to the American ticket counter and asked where our dog was and she confirms that there was no dog on that flight. NO DOG? Surely there's been a mistake. My heart was racing and I was already panicking. I knew it! I knew she shouldn't be on an airplane all by herself. Ugh

I demand to know where my dog is and they finally realize that our dog is still in Chicago. This is now about 6pm est, and at this point, our dog has been on planes and who knows where else for approximately 9 hours. We couldn't get any info from them in Chicago at first and the person in Chicago tells the rep in charlotte that they had been trying to reach us by phone all day. HELLO, we've been on a plane all day. I started trying to remember which number I left with them and feeling really bad because I left MY cell phone in San Diego at my mother's house, where we stayed the night before. I was horrified and starting to feel like this was my fault totally. After about an hour and a half of getting NO info from anyone and the rep in Charlotte (who was being as helpful as she knew how), I called my mom in tears and left a message that they lost my dog in Chicago. I don't know how she even understood what I was saying. We were exhausted after being up since 3am and I felt like I was going to scream!

My mom calls us back about an hour later on dh's cell that she has spoken to someone in Chicago, the supervisor (that the rep in Charlotte couldn't get to come to the phone) and they were going to try to get Mysti on the next flight to Charlotte, but nothing on AA, so they were going to get her onto United. She would come in around 11pm. Then, we hear that that flight can't take dogs because of some other materials they are going to ship, so probably morning. I demanded to know how she was going to be treated until then. The supervisor assured me that she had Mysti out of her cage, IN her office and walking, feeding and watering her, but that she wouldn't eat (would you????)

My mom got them to book her on a flight getting into Charlotte at 9:15. They told us to come back to that baggage claim terminal at that time and she would be there. So we go back to our hotel and I was just exhausted. Plus, our hotel was about 45 min away from the airport. We had to make it down to get Mysti and get back to near our new house to sign final papers before 11am.

In the morning, we got to the airport and about 9:25am, I am standing watching the door by the baggage claim. Someone from AA comes over and asks if she can help. I tell her that I am waiting for my dog, where's my dog? She looks at me like I am from Mars and tells me that everything is already off of that plane, no dog. So I tell her that she needs to find my dog NOW and if they lost my dog again, I just don't know what I will even do. She calls around and tells me I need to go to another airport that's down the street because that's where she is. I tell her that she needs to actually get my dog HERE. My dh was livid, too and tells her that they are responsible for getting her to the place we were told to wait and they will. So, about 30 minutes later, here's my dog!

The rep that is at the airport at that time (who had no idea what had transpired the night before and didn't realize the major ass covering she was supposed to be doing) told me that it looks like my dog ended up someplace other than Chicago and that's why she wasn't here on time. WHAT?

I look at the original tag that I filled out on her kennel and the shipper's phone number is my mom's number and the recipient was my dh's cell. They NEVER ONCE called my mom's house OR dh's cell. Even if they'd not left a message, it would show BOTH places that they'd attempted to call.

This is where I get pissed. I called my mom and she told me that the supervisor had confided in her that it was the SECOND dog they'd lost THAT DAY and that they hadn't realized that Mysti was even "misplaced" until we called. So, the lies about them calling me all day (which I felt so terribly guilty about) and her being in Chicago the whole time---all lies!!

I have decided we are suing them. Not for money---but for them to either stop shipping animals that way or change the way that they do it. My dog could have died if someone who cared about animals hadn't come across her and took care of her. They had taken her to an emergency vet the night before, which they promised to do and she was so terribly drugged all the next day. It was painfully clear that she had no idea who I was or even who SHE was. Yesterday, she started recognizing us and responding with excitement to our voices again. My poor baby.