Pet Death In Changi At The Hands Of Singapore Airlines; Call For Justice For Charlie

JUSTICE for CHARLIE and all other pets at the mercy of NEGLIGENT AIRLINES

Please be wary of transporting your pet by SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Their negligence killed our pet Charlie.
We had planned to take our pet by Singapore Airlines to Ho Chi Minh. On Sep 2nd our scheduled travel date we arrived early as at the PPS Counter to check in our luggage and Charlie.
Since pets are taken on as excess baggage we had bought close to 220 kgs of excess baggage in addition to our allowance including Charlie and his crate which weighed around 22 kgs in total. Charlie has been with us since he was 30 days old and had completed 4 hours and 7 months. We were anxious about the move but with respect to Charlie we were very confident that he was in safe hands with Singapore Airlines. That is where we made a terrible mistake.

Our flight to Vietnam was at 1:30 pm. Though we had bought excess baggage for Charlie earlier at the airport we were told that the policy had changed and we had to make a fresh payment towards pet handling charges for Charlie. After the payment was made all our bags were weighed and checked in .
Charlie’s crate was secured with plastic tags. The pet handling staff were not willing to even put the tags. Charlie was barking and they were scared. All pets do get anxious when the owners leave them even for some time. I asked them if they wanted to keep the leash lest they needed to
open the crate in case of any issues.They said it was not required . I presumed that if there was any emergency they would have a leash on hand if they had to open the crate.We were so wrong about the blind faith that we placed in Singapore Airlines.

Charlie was wheeled away with his crate in a trolley around 11 am. We proceeded to have breakfast and then around 12:30 pm we went to the boarding gate. We told them at the boarding gate that we had a pet.They told us he was a bit anxious and had some mucus and if we wanted to see him.Please note this. Mucus or saliva is a very normal thing for a dog and we felt we should not make him more anxious just before boarding.We boarded the aircraft and while on board the Captain made an announcement that we had a pet on
board the aircraft. We knew Charlie had boarded from the announcement.In just an hour and a half we would land and then
maybe in another half an hour or so we would be able to take him after completing the airport formalities.Our agent in Vietnam would be there to handle that for us.We landed in HCMC . We were received and taken to a separate counter to complete the immigration formalities faster. We thought this was because we had a pet . We completed the immigration only to taken aside and told by the Singapore Airlines staff that Charlie had passed away. We broke down in complete shock. We wanted to see him. We were in for a bigger shock. Charlie died not on the flight but he was not on the plane as he died in Singapore. We were terribly shocked. We demanded to understand how it happened , why we were not called and informed that Charlie had an issue or if he was distressed and why we were allowed to board and no announcement made to let us know before the aircraft took off. We were told that the gates had closed and they did not want to delay the flight and that is why they felt they should not inform us . The staff in Vietnam said they had no details except that they received a telex about the death of Charlie and what we wanted to be done with his body. They kept saying we are stating the information they received. We demanded to speak to the Singapore staff but the Vietnam staff could not put anyone on the phone for us and no one from Singapore attempted to reach us. They got somebody on the line after I kept saying I need to know. We had informed that you that the dog had mucus and if you wanted to see him. They never told us that our dog was severely distressed .As per airline policies pets who are severely distressed are never allowed to fly and the owners are informed that they are not fit to fly. The captain of the flight on some airlines in our experience with Air India took a look at Charlie and only after he gave a go ahead Charlie was boarded in. We were allowed to be with Charlie until boarding after which the captain saw him and then we proceeded.

Charlie’s death took us by complete shock. We questioned how the captain made the announcement about the pet on the aircraft when Charlie had not boarded. They said there was no time to inform him. He was dead when they brought him
to the plane and since they could put a dead dog on the plane they did not want the flight to be delayed because of this incident . They chose to inform us on arrival.

Singapore Airlines is responsible for our pet’s death. He was a perfectly healthy dog. They were clearly trying to cover up negligence on their part. They were playing it safe. We checked when the next flight back to Singapore was and said we want to take that. The staff asked us to get back before 6pm for the 7:30 pm flight. We dropped off my daughter with a relative at the serviced apartment and reached the airport before 6 pm. We were met by the same staff who informed us about Charlie. They asked us where our tickets were. We said we had no tickets as it was only an onward journey to HCMC from Singapore. We had assumed that the airline would have the tickets ready as we were informed of his death in Singapore only on arrival in HCMC. They are an insensitive airline. They told us that they could not do the booking over the counter and there was no override option.My husband tried to login in using the roaming service . The connectivity was very slow and after a half an hour struggle we did the bookings.

Singapore Airlines is a dishonest airline and a completely insensitive airline. Their perceived image is not what they are. The staff at Vietnam did not do anything to help us in our situation. Charlie died at the hands of the airline but they clearly were not feeling responsible for what happened or even regretted what had happened. Charlie was a dog after all. I had questioned them if they would have proceeded to take off if someone had gone into labor or someone was having a heart attack . The flight would not take off if a human life was at stake. Human life is precious . A pet’s life is worthless . Only people who have dogs understand that they are integral part of the family. In our case I did not see any difference between my 12 year daughter and 4.7 year old Charlie, an American cocker spaniel. I have had him since he was 30 days old.

My husband and myself could not control our tears on the flight. We could not stop crying from the time we heard Charlie had passed away. We landed around 10 pm
In Singapore. Three airline staff held a placard with my husband’s name and took us to the lost and found area where Charlie’s crate was placed on a trolley with a plastic sheet over the crate.Before we landed in Singapore from
Ho Chi Minh we had reached out to my husband’s Cousin to check on what happened. He was told that Charlie had been taken away by AVA, the Agri and Animal government authority of Singapore.We were anxious on the flight whether we would be able to see him immediately on arriving.
Charlie lay motionless , his body was cold, he was stiff , his face was down. There was evidence of a big struggle due to distress. He had chewed up the entire wee pad made of cotton. I was always so gentle with him and here he was in this state due to negligent handling .

What were they doing when he was distressed and was trying to get out of the crate was chewing on the wee pad?
Why did the pet handling staff not break open the crate and release him
and offer some water and try to relieve him and alert us ? This was an SOS situation. What stopped them?

We were told that the pet handling staff are not actually trained people who can handle pets. They treat pets like baggage. Their job is to move them to the pet hold area.

How could he have become motionless suddenly? What happened prior to that.? Who was there with him? Why did that person not alert the staff to reach us? Was there anyone with him in the first place? The presence of another human being even not known to him would have given him hope and could have saved his life.

The passenger services station
manager ,a man in his late twenties told us he was the in charge on the current shift and he wasn’t aware of exactly happened in the earlier shift.We could not take it any more.

What led to Charlie’s death? He was insensitive to our questions. He was hoping we would take Charlie’s body and walk out of the airport without asking any questions.

We knew we were not going to get any answers from SIA. One of the senior staff who works at the Changi Airport spoke to us. We asked her who was responsible for managing the pet while in the pet holding area.

Were the airport authorities accountable in any way or the airline staff solely responsible. She could understand us as she had a pet herself and she seemed to understand our agony.Since Singapore Airlines seemed to show no remorse or were not serious nor honest in the way they were handling the whole situation we checked if we could file a report with the police at the airport. We went to the Singapore Airport police force and explained our situation. The officer took down the details and registered our complaint. He asked us if we suspected any foul play on the part of the airlines.We told the officer that Charlie has had a big struggle which is evident . Either the pet handlers chose to ignore it or they were not around for the entire period of time he was in the pet hold area. He was a perfectly healthy dog. He was examined by a vet and the vet certificate endorsed by AVA prior to travel .The officer took pictures of how he was lying face down in the crate with just very little left of the wee pad left in the crate. All along the SIA officer was tight lipped divulging no information but constantly engaged on his phone we are sure he was providing updates on what was happening. We requested for the protocol observed while keeping the pet in holding area. SIA is all the time talking about protocol but they had nothing to share here. They wanted to play safe to ensure the truth does not come out.They did not want their image to be tarnished and were trying to shield their staff .They did not care that our pet died and they should own up for the lapse at their end.
We did not want to go for an autopsy as that would establish that the dog suffered a panic attack maybe but what ensued in the two hours after he was taken away and what the staff did about it would not come out from the autopsy.Because it was only a pet they were least bothered.

Singapore Airlines should be banned from transporting pets since they clearly have no pet safety protocols in place and by their own admission do not have staff who can handle pets and pets are treated only as baggage and the crate never opened unless there is an emergency. Emergency for them means ”until the dog is completely unresponsive ”…

I cannot forgive myself for entrusting my baby in the hands of this ruthless airline. Please do not trust this airline with your pet .They simply don’t care.
This is the real ugly face of the airline and not what is projected by them.The passenger services station manager did not share his contact number and refused to give any commitment in terms when they would write to us or send us the details of any investigation which they would carry out internally.

Pets dying while on board is heard off.Never in the holding area. The owners are intimated if the pet is distressed. If they treat them as excess baggage then they should let us know that they will not be monitoring our pet. Pet owners treat their pets like children and will not risk their pets with such an airline. A pet is not a wild animal that someone could not have opened the crate and freed him and offered some water and called us to calm him down . We would have decided not to fly or fly another day maybe after sedating him or would have even chosen another airline where he would have been more comfortable.

After registering the complaint we called the dog undertakers who came to collect Charlie around 4:30 pm. It is only when they removed Charlie from the crate we were horrified to see that he had chewed off his paw partially there was blood on his paw and on the mouth . He has used his paws to break open the crate and in desperation had chewed up the wee pad. He appears to have suffered a heart attack from the stress . The passenger services station manager gave us the CEO ‘s email when we asked for his bosses email Id. We are not uneducated and he thought we were fools to believe him.This shows how they deal with such issues. We went to spend the night at our cousin’s place with a heavy heart. We have not stopped crying since this happened. We are in shock and we are unable to believe this happened at the hands of a pro pet airline such as Singapore Airlines in a very pet friendly nation in their home base of Singapore.
The ashes were delivered to us around 2pm by the undertakers and we boarded the 5:30 pm flight back to Ho Chi Minh city.

Charley deserves justice. Another pet should not meet the same fate. SIA has no right to be flying pets given the negligence they showed in Charlie’s case unless they come out with revisions in their pet handling policies.
As expected we never got email from SIA even on Sunday . This shows their indifference to what happened.
We boarded the return flight to HCMC at 5:30 pm after collecting Charlie’s ashes.

One of the senior air hostesses noticed us crying and ask us if she could help us. When we told her what had happened she was shocked and wanted to help us since we had not received any sort of communication in writing from Singapore Airlines. She in turn appraised the flight manager on board who assured us that he would report this to the concerned people.
We got an email on 4th morning that they were looking into the incident clearly only after the staff on the return flight reported what had happened to us.

I looked out for Charlie all the time and had made so many adjustments and arrangements at home to ensure the environment was safe for Charlie.Charlie was the baby of our house and all of us loved him and cared for him deeply.Charlie was my daughter’s sibling and our son.It is hard to replace him. It is very difficult to cope with his loss. In a new city without him life seems empty. Time can heal is what they say. Time can heal certain wounds but the loss of a loved one hurts a lot and takes many years to heal. It does not matter if the loved one is a pet or a human.

Pet lovers and owners will understand this.
Whichever Airline you choose please insist on being there in the pet holding area till the time they are transported to the aircraft or check on who is going to be with them in the pet holding area and how your pets are going to be handed if they become distressed. In the name of protocol they may not permit you to be around. Believe us they have no safety protocols that they observe and no one will be around watching with your pet. Please question and understand how your pets are going to be handled before choosing the airline. You must insist that they inform you if you pet is distressed.

Please do not use Singapore Airlines till the time they bring about changes in the policies with respect to pet handling. They intended to brush the whole incident under the carpet and did not accept responsibility.Please do not go by their perceived image and also by the fact that Singapore is a pet friendly nation.
I am sharing pictures of how I found Charlie. As much as it hurts and I don’t want to remember Charlie like this I want the world to know what can happen to your pets if you choose to fly with such an airline.


Source: Shabana Mary Kuruvilla

Pictures from mainstream media:


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