TAMPA, Fla. — The recent death of a Pomeranian on a layover in Detroit is bringing back painful memories for a Tampa family that are still separated from their dog Brady and 8-months later still have serious concerns about how Delta handled their case.
The death of Alejandro in Detroit, while en route to Newark, on a Delta Air Lines flight that originated out of Phoenix has Alejandro’s owner calling the dog’s death a cover-up.
Watching the news coverage from his new home in Bermuda, Bill Gideon says he couldn’t help but feel like he was watching what happened to him last October play out with someone else all over again.
“We look at this and go ‘huh’ it makes you go ‘huh?’” Gideon said. “When we got the cage back it was completely scrubbed clean. I asked for the blankets and everything that were inside to be intact and they were disposed of. So, when we got everything it was just the cage. Her food bowls, the bloody blankets, everything you can see in the picture that Vic posted were not there.”
“It raises red flags,” Vic Berg is Gideon’s attorney. Berg is in talks with Delta about what happened to Brady and doesn’t believe the airlines' version of events.
“I’m concerned because there is evidence that is missing we are never going to get,” Berg said. “They’ve wiped all the blood all the hair taken the possessions and want us to accept their explanation.”
Brady is at a foster home in Tampa. After the dog's escape gained national attention the dog's breed was called into question and the government of Bermuda will not allow her on the island. There has been speculation that she was part pit bull, a breed Delta will not transport, or allowed in Bermuda.
In Detroit, Alejandro’s owner Michael Dellagrazie said he felt that Delta was trying to “cover up” what happened to his 8-year-old Pomeranian.
Alejandro, died on a flight from Phoenix to Newark, New Jersey, where he and his girlfriend are relocating, while in an animal-care facility at the airport.
“Seeing that blanket some kid of foul play happened here,” Dellagrzie said. “I want to know what happened to our dog. What happened?”
A bloody blanket was among the items returned to a New York man whose dog died while traveling with Delta Air Lines, Dellagrazie’s attorney said Monday.
Evan Oshan, a lawyer for the Pomeranian's owner, said he's still awaiting the results of a necropsy on Alejandro. The 8-year-old dog was found dead in his carrier last Wednesday at a cargo facility at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Dellegrazie said he was filled with "very strong feelings of pain, anger and disgust" at the moment he received his dog, which intensified when he went through the pup's personal belongings and found them soaking wet.
"It was at that point that I stopped the retrieval of the items and called for a criminal investigation. The area was completely taped off, and some of the items were marked, and some of those are with the Detroit Police Department," he said.
Delta told ABC News the dog may have been wet from the refrigeration of the dog's body or from bodily fluids. Delta does not wash deceased dogs because doing so would jeopardize the accuracy of the necropsy, the airline said.
Nearly 507,000 animals were transported on U.S. airlines last year, and of those, 24 died, according to Department of Transportation figures.
In a statement to ABC Action News Delta said the airline is conducting an ongoing investigation:
We know pets are an important member of the family and we are focused on the well-being of all animals we transport," the company said. "Delta is conducting a thorough review of the situation and have been working directly with Alejandro's family to support them however we can. As part of that review, we want to find out more about why this may have occurred to ensure it doesn't happen again and we have offered to have Alejandro evaluated by a veterinarian to learn more.
Gideon said he doesn’t know if his family will ever be reunited with Brady. So far, Gideon has not filed a lawsuit against the airline but said they haven’t done enough to make things right.
“All you have to do is look on their website, it says we will treat your pet as a family member,” Gideon said. “OK. I’m not with my family. Those people aren’t with their family and people before aren’t with their family yet. Nothing really seems to be done about it.”