During a layover in Detroit, Michigan, a couple ‘s 8-year-old Pomeranian named Alejandro died while being held in a Delta cargo facility. The couple was in the process of relocating across the country when the incident happened.

When the flight arrived in Detroit from Phoenix Wednesday morning, Alejandro was alive and transported from the aircraft to the cargo holding facility. When the pet was checked “between 8am and 8:30am,” it was found deceased “with vomit and fluids in the cage.”

While these stories make the headlines, animal mishandling on an aircraft isn’t rare. In 2017, there were 40 incidents reported in Department of Transportation statistics, 24 of which were deaths — and 18 of those deaths occurred on United Airlines.

Compared to United’s statistics, Delta has had a solid record. In 2017, Delta only had two transported animal deaths and one other animal incident out of the 57,479 transported animals. One of those deaths was determined to be due to an advanced infection and the other was found to be due to a heart attack. The third incident involved a dog chewing through its metal cage and escaping temporarily before being caught.

Alejandro’s owners are being represented by Evan Oshan — the same lawyer that represented the family whose dog died on a United flight when the flight attendant instructed the family to put the carrier in the overhead bin. The necropsy showed that the French Bulldog puppy died from suffocation in-flight.

Delta has offered to pay for the necropsy on Alejandro to determine the cause of death as part of a “thorough review of the situation.” In a statement, a Delta spokesperson said:

We know pets are an important member of the family and we are focused on the well-being of all animals we transport. As part of that review, we want to find out more about why this may have occurred to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Whether relocating, bringing a new pet home or traveling with your pet, here are the tips to keep your animal safe when flying as well as how to select an on-board pet carrier.

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