Owner of dog who died horrifically on plane offered "cargo weight" compensation

Justice for Maverick: Owner of dog who died on plane offered "cargo weight" compensation
(Image credit: CTV Vancouver)

After the tragic death of her Golden Retriever Maverick, on a China Southern Airlines flight bound for British Columbia, Canada, back in July 2020, the owner of the poor pup has merely been offered "cargo weight" compensation amounting to just over US$1,600.

Monique Collette is still seeking justice for the pet she adopted as a puppy when teaching English in China, who became her closest companion and was placed on a flight ahead of her own after she hired a professional pet mover to ensure her dogs safe passage to North America.

“He was my best friend, and they don’t seem to take any consideration to that, about what me and my mom went through that day and what we’re still going through,” she told CTV News Vancouver, adding that she'd hoped to give him a good life in Canada. “Instead of that, he had to die in such a horrible way.”

When Monique's mother, Dorice Bastarache, waited for the dogs arrival Vancouver airport, she was told Maverick had died, and was presented with a bloody crate with mangled bars.

An autopsy discovered that Maverick, who had previously flown, had a brain hemorrhage and it is likely he died of a heart attack.

Dorice and Monique were told the poor animal attempted to chew through his cage, piercing his tongue and his mouth, something that has left Monique perplexed and horrified: “It wasn’t a good death.”

Furthermore, the devastated pet owner has never been provided with proof of where Maverick was placed on the plane and if he was near his brother, Monique's other small mixed-breed dog, Chocolate. The airline has insisted the animals on board were in the same compartment.

When the airline was contacted about the incident, the airline responded in April via email expressing “deep regret” and denying any responsibility, explaining that “according to our investigation, China Southern Airlines had carried out the correct and standard operation procedure during the whole transportation process.”

Monique's lawyer, Rebeka Breder called their response "insult to injury".

“Clearly something devastating happened. It was either a lack of pressure or a lack of oxygen,” she added. “Dogs, companion animals are much more than simply cargo to a family.”

“I thought it was very disgusting that what they came back with was an offer just on his weight,” added Monique. “As if he was an object, or as if we had broken a chair.”

“We’re not accepting their apology,” Monique's mother, Dorice, expressed. “It’s not easy to keep going forward. We have to relive this over and over and over again. We’re tired of fighting. But we’re not giving up.” 

She and Monique are prepared to take legal action if needed, and they are both keen to see airline policies change, ensure animals on flights are protected and safe.