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A Metro Vancouver woman is still waiting for justice for her dog, who died on a trip to British Columbia nearly two years ago.
Monique Collette, the dog’s owner, has only been granted “cargo weight” compensation of just over US$1,600 following the unfortunate loss of her Golden Retriever, Maverick, on a China Southern Airlines aircraft heading for British Columbia, Canada, in July 2020.
Collette said, “I thought it was very disgusting that what they came back with was an offer just on his weight. As if he was an object, or as if we had broken a chair.”
She adopted Maverick as a puppy while teaching English in China. The dog became one of her closest companions, along with a small mixed-breed dog named Chocolate. When Collette decided to return to Canada in the summer of 2020, she hired a professional pet mover to help with the travel arrangements for both dogs. They ended up on board a China Southern Airlines trip ahead of her in July of that year.
Collette’s mother, Dorice Bastarache, was at the Vancouver airport waiting for the dogs when she learned Maverick had died and saw his crate with blood and mangled bars.
Collette hoped Maverick would have a good life in Canada but “Instead of that, he had to die in such a horrible way.”
According to an autopsy, Maverick, who had previously flown, experienced a brain hemorrhage and most likely died of a heart attack. Dorice and Monique were told that the dog tried to gnaw through his cage, piercing his tongue and lips. This has left Collette bewildered and horrified: “It wasn’t a good death.”
When contacted about the incident, the airline responded via email in April, expressing “deep regret” and denying any responsibility, stating that “according to our investigation, China Southern Airlines had carried out the correct and standard operation procedure during the whole transportation process.”
Rebeka Breder, Collette’s lawyer, said that the airline’s response was an “insult to injury.” She said, “Clearly something devastating happened. It was either a lack of pressure or a lack of oxygen. Dogs, companion animals are much more than simply cargo to a family.”
Collette stated that she is willing to take legal action if necessary. She and Bastarache also want regulations changed to safeguard and keep animals on aircraft safe.
“We’re not accepting their apology,” Bastarache said. “It’s not easy to keep going forward. We have to relive this over and over and over again. We’re tired of fighting. But we’re not giving up.”