A Dubai pet owner has spoken of his "devastation" after his beloved Pomeranian died while being transported to the Philippines on an Emirates flight.
Cliff Rozal arranged for a friend to accompany Snoopy, almost 6, who was in “excellent health”, on a flight from Dubai International Airport to Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines on September 1.
But on arrival, the friend was sadly informed that Snoopy had died of hypoxia, a lack of oxygen reaching the body's tissues, during the flight.
“You have to go to the cargo hold area to collect animals and when my friend got there the customs and airport staff told him that [Snoopy] was no longer breathing,” said Mr Rozal, who was waiting for his beloved pet in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon.
“The customs veterinary surgeon said he had been dead for four hours already, which means he died mid-flight. I told them that they should have kept him in the cabin where the oxygen was sufficient,” said Mr Rozal.
An Emirates representative said the airline "expresses our deepest condolences on the passing of Mr Rozal's pet. We follow strict guidelines to ensure the comfort and safety of all animals we transport, and are conducting a thorough investigation into the situation."
Aside from a previous bladder stone, Mr Rozal said that Snoopy had been in excellent health.
Mr Rozal initially took on Snoopy as a fosterer because he was not sure whether he could offer a pet a permanent home.
“I fell in love with him instantly,” said Mr Rozal, who quickly decided to keep him.
“He was a very smart dog. He was the best-behaved dog I have ever met. He was not just a dog, he was my family. He meant everything to me.”
Mr Rozal lives in Dubai, but is on indefinite sick leave from his job as a finance operations manager for an insurance company for an undisclosed medical condition. Snoopy was due to spend a night in Cebu before taking another flight the following day to join Mr Rozal.
“I was helpless because I was in another city and Snoopy was so far away. It’s devastating and it’s really making my condition worse,” said Mr Rozal.
“What is more painful is that they didn’t even allow us to take [his body] out of the airport. He is our dog. They said it is international law that if an animal dies mid-flight or in the airport they cannot allow them to be taken outside of the airport,” he said.
“He is buried there next to the runway.”
An Emirates staff member sent Mr Rozal a picture of his burial place and he was told that the airline would launch a full investigation into what happened.
“According to the Emirates lady, this is the first time it has happened in Cebu,” said Mr Rozal, who arranged Snoopy’s travel with the help of a veterinary clinic in Dubai. The total price of the flight, including the air ticket for his friend, who was acting as Snoopy’s flight buddy, was Dh8,000.
“I didn’t care about the cost. I just wanted him to be with me here in the Philippines,” said Mr Rozal.
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