Family upset with Air Canada

Alana Simonelli was flying from Smithers to Toronto when her dog Niyah escaped from her crate while she was being loaded onto the plane.

A Smithers family is devastated after they say Air Canada mishandled the transportation of their Boston terrier French bulldog cross Niyah, leading to its death on the side of a runway at Vancouver International Airport.

Alana Simonelli was flying from Smithers to Toronto, via Vancouver, on May 19 when Niyah escaped from her crate while she was being loaded onto the plane at YVR.

Initially, Alana was not allowed to assist in finding Niyah but eventually was escorted by airport security onto the tarmac and runway to see if the dog could be located.

Alana was driven around the airport property until after midnight but was still unable to locate Niyah.

It wasn’t until the next day they discovered the dog’s carcass, presumably mutilated by eagles, Alana’s brother Jim said, adding he was speaking on behalf of his sister because she was too devastated to speak about the incident.

The family is upset with Air Canada for not making sure the dog was properly secured in its crate prior to travel and for taking nine days to complete their investigation.

“No compensation, no nothing,” Jim said of Air Canada’s response.

“Sorry about your loss and I hope you fly with us in the future.”

Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah told The Interior News in an email after further investigation they determined the two clasps on the kennel became unlatched, which enabled Niyah to escape.

“Air Canada takes the utmost care in the handling of animals, and our employees are also pet lovers and owners,” Mah said.

“We ship thousands of animals, a great many of them dogs and cats, through both our baggage services and our cargo services annually and escaped animals are very rare.”

Mah also said while s Air Canada is not required to compensate the family, out of compassion, they paid for two nights accommodation for Alana as she searched for Niyah, flew Alana’s sister down from Smithers to aid in the search and paid for her accommodation, upgraded Alana to business class when she continued her trip toToronto, paid for Niyah’s cremation and personally delivered the remains to the family and are in the process of refunding Alana’s pet fee.

“People need to know if they do choose to fly with an animal, which a lot of people do, Air Canada assumes no responsibility even if they mishandle the kennel,” Jim said.

“They were supposed to strap [the kennel closed] and they didn’t do that and [the kennel] broke and the dog got out.”