Dog flying Delta Air Lines found dead during layover

Credit: George Frey/Getty Images

Credit: George Frey/Getty Images

A family is demanding answers after an 8-year-old Pomeranian was found dead while being flown by Delta Air Lines from Phoenix to Newark, New Jersey, this week, according to multiple reports.

The dog, Alejandro, was found dead in his crate inside a cargo facility during a layover in Detroit, WDIV reported.

"We lost a family member," the dog's owner, Michael Dellegrazie, told WDIV. "That's exactly what happened, and somebody has to be responsible for it."

Dellegrazie and his girlfriend were traveling from Phoenix to New York, where they are moving, and planned to pick up Alejandro in Newark, CNN reported. However, they learned that the dog was found dead during the layover.

"There was a stop in Detroit at 6 a.m.," Dellegrazie's attorney, Evan Oshan, told CNN. "Alejandro was checked on. He was alive. Then between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., he was checked on again and he was dead."

A Delta Air Lines spokeswoman told CNN in a statement that the airline is "conducting a thorough review of the situation."

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

The airline has released Alejandro's body and crate to Dellegrazie and his attorney, WDIV reported. They plan to take the dog to a facility for a necropsy to determine what caused his death, according to the news station.

"I want to know what happened," Dellegrazie said on "Good Morning America" on Saturday. "This is not a pet. He's a member of our family."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Delta Air Lines transported more than 57,000 animals in 2017, the last year for which data was available. During that year, two animals died on Delta flights while a third was injured.

A kitten died during a layover in Minneapolis while flying Delta Air Lines in August 2017, from Indianapolis to Bozeman, Montana, according to DOT. The cause of death was determined to be intestinal feline corona virus with secondary spiral bacteria, both pre-existing conditions. That same month, an Australian Shepherd puppy died of acute myocardial necrosis during a layover in Detroit while flying Delta from Kansas City, Missouri, to Providence, Rhode Island. A dog suffered self-inflicted injuries in October 2017 while attempting to chew her way out of a kennel, according to DOT.

More than half a million animals were transported by plane last year.

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