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Model Maggie Rizer’s Dog Dies During Commercial Airline Flight

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Beautiful model and animal lover, Maggie Rizer, is mourning the death of her beloved Golden Retriever, Beatrice, after a flight on United Airlines resulted in the death of 2-year old “Bea.”

Maggie Rizer 600
Maggie Rizer’s beloved Golden Retriever, Beatrice, died during a United Airlines flight from New York to San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Maggie Rizer.

Beatrice was a wedding gift to Rizer and her husband, Alex Mehran, and quickly melted the couples’ hearts with her wonderful nature, gorgeous golden smile, and quirky personality. The addition of Bea into the Rizer family ultimately inspired the model to start a blog called Bea Makes Three.

Rizer, her husband, their 10-month old son, Zander, and their two Golden Retrievers – 2 year old Beatrice and 7 year old Albert – had just spent a summer vacation on the east coast and were returning home to San Francisco when tragedy struck.

In her blog, Maggie Rizer described the heartwrenching series of events to readers, in hopes that other dog parents will reconsider using commercial airlines to transport their pets.

Beatrice had a perfect health record.  She received a full examination and a health certificate four days before the flight, as is required by the Pet Safe program. This program is United’s branded on-board pet safety program. In addition to Pet Safe’s stringent requirements, we took every extra precaution we could think of.  Both the dog’s kennels were labeled front to back with emergency numbers, flight information and warnings.  Their kennels were purchased specifically for the measurements and design specified by Pet Safe.  We purchased special water bowls which we filled with ice to ensure that the water wouldn’t spill and that it would last longer. We drove the six hours to New York City from our house in Northern New York State, so the dogs wouldn’t have to make a connecting flight.  We paid United Airlines $1800.00, in addition to our plane tickets, to ensure the safety of our pets. Albert and Bea were very prepared travelers.

When the family landed, they were met with an uninterested and unsympathetic airline employee who gave them the news. It took over two hours of pleading with an airline supervisor for Bea’s lifeless body to be returned to her family. Necropsy by the family’s veterinarian confirmed that the death was due to heatstroke.

Rizer believes that United Airline’s negligence and lies ultimately resulted in the death of her furry family member, saying in her blog:

They had nothing to say about the fact that the plane had been turned off  (for at least fifteen minutes each time) twice before take-off in Newark, nor did they have anything to say when I requested information about her placement in the plane or about baggage being packed around her.  United Airlines additionally called our veterinarian and fabricated a story about having an email from me, authorizing them to obtain the necropsy results. This, after I specifically told them that we would release the results to them at our discretion.

Rizer begs other pet owners to not place their dogs in the care of any commercial airline and will continue to mourn the loss of her “Sweet Bea” for the rest of her life.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Avatar Of Mary Diblasi

    Mary DiBlasi

    says:

    I have heard way too many stories of airlines mishandling dogs – dogs getting lost, dogs not surviving the flights. I would never fly my dogs anywhere on a commercial airline. Fortunately I do not travel that much myself, so it is not a big issue for me. There are some private airline companies now that do transport pets I believe and not in cargo holds. You may want to check them out. It may be more expensive but I’m sure it’s worth it in the long run.

  2. Avatar Of K.vedrinski

    K.Vedrinski

    says:

    I am so incredibly sorry, for what has happend in your life! It sounds like you thought of and did everything possible, to insure her health and safety. To say simply shame on United Airlines, is by far not anywhere near what I wish to express. Their negligence, coupled with their subsequent treatment of you, is beyond inexcusable. I will NEVER again, say, do, or spend any money that in any way possible will support this airline!! United Airlines, don’t waste your time with damage control. There is nothing that you can do to heal the pain you have caused, nor is there anything you can do to mend the damage to you image!

  3. Avatar Of Joyce Henderson

    Joyce Henderson

    says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Especially so unexpectedly. And unnecessarilly. I flew with my best friend from St. Louis to Austin, Texas in 1985 and almost lost him from the flight. He was never a healthy dog after the trip. I swore to never fly an animal again, regardless of its type. Our cat flew with us, too. She faired well, but both we set out under the wing of an airplane on the tarmac in Dallas while we waited for the plane to leave. Our family watched as Dusty panted in the heat. As I tried to express to the stewardess, to no avail, he needed somewhere cooler and WATER. I then swore to never…………EVER…………put another animal through the cruelty of flight.

  4. Avatar Of Juliann Valencia

    Juliann Valencia

    says:

    OMG I am so sorry. I am grieving the loss of my Boxer who died 1 year ago yesterday but I had 3 weeks to prepare for her leaving me. I can’t imagine what you folks are going through. Bless your hearts. My dogs are the most important thing to me. They are and believe me when I say they are as important to me as my children, grandchildren and great granddaughter. I have lost 2 of my dogs to cancer within the last 2 and 1/2 years and I still haven’t gotten over it and never will. It is a great loss. I hope in time you can find peace cause your baby is up having fun at the Rainbow Bridge with my babies and they are all waiting for us to meet them. Bless you and lots of HUGZ coming your way….

  5. Avatar Of Patricia

    Patricia

    says:

    I hear so many bad things about United Airlines, I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful furbaby, I hope you suit this airline to make them learn to take care of our 4 legged friends and act responsible, please don’t stop until they pay for what they did, Airlines employees this time are so indiferent and selfish and they do not care about anything but finishing their shift.
    Is horrible this kind of animal abuse, poor little one and her suffering! Please adopt if you ever consider another puppy! RIP BEA!

  6. Avatar Of Christy

    Christy

    says:

    I’m extremely saddened to hear of your loss, inexcusable….shame shame on united airlines.
    This just confirms my personal feelings on having your beloved pets fly in cargo on a plane. I will never ever fly my pet anywhere…If I go on vacation and can’t drive to my destination then we won’t go at all.
    May sound a bit dumb but that’s how much my dog and cats mean to me. I am very sorry for the loss of sweet Bea.. Beautiful baby girl she was. My heart is full of grief for you and your family.God bless…

  7. Avatar Of Sherri

    Sherri

    says:

    I am so sorry for you loss!! Such a beautiful puppy she was – I have tears in my eyes!! :~( Please know that not everyone is a jerk that deals with dogs on the airlines!! Years back when I worked for a competitor of United Airlines and we would get dogs in for flight – many times unaccompanied as this was from a much smaller airport in South Dakota where hunting dogs are highly valued and sometimes shipped in and out by themselves – we would make sure that dogs were ALWAYS the very last loaded and the very first unloaded!! At NO TIME EVER were they allowed to be left on the tarmac, in the plane w/out ventilation or without water!! Personally, I always tried my best to make sure I got permission from each owner that if we were going to be delayed for any reason that I was allowed to walk the dog, give it water and ice and if need be to feed it! And I think it was twice due to foul weather I even called and asked an owner who was shipping a hunting dog and lived a distance away if I could take their dog home overnite so that it would NOT have to spend the nite in it’s kennel!! Please NOT everyone is the way that United’s people were to Beatrice!! Most of us loved and adored the dogs and it was always the best part of our day if we got to have a dog onboard!! And it sounds like you did everything right and within your power to make sure that your fur-babies Beatrice and Albert were okay!! Again, I am so sorry for your loss and I just know as a fellow dog owner that your Sweet Bea will be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for you to join her one day!! Dog Bless You All! :~)

    • Avatar Of Juliann Valencia

      Juliann Valencia

      says:

      SHERRI, you couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for your care of the animals who are not with their loved one’s while in flight. You are truly an Angel and have all my respect. Dog Bless You Too.

  8. Avatar Of Nellie

    Nellie

    says:

    I just can’t believe how those people treated u &the way they just handled the situation!! I could just imagine how they treated that precious angel when u werent around, t
    hey need to be accounted for there action’s! It just isn’t taken seriously because there just animals! That’s not true, there soo much more!! &something needs To be done, I’m soo sorry for what u &ur family have been thru! Beatrice is now with the angels,In Doggie heaven!! I can’t imagine going thru something like that! My dog is my everything!! I would go nuts!!! God bless u Guy’s …i can’t stop crying 🙁

  9. Avatar Of Ellen

    Ellen

    says:

    this is such a tragedy…I hate to think of what the poor doggie went through — it is terrible and unforgivable. Someone: start a new affordable airline that allows pets to travel on board with their humans. Pets are Not Luggage! Not on top of cars, not in cargo holds! There must be a solution out there. RIP poor, sweet B.

    • Avatar Of Juliann Valencia

      Juliann Valencia

      says:

      AMEN. If children can ride in the airplane why can’t dogs. They are no louder, no dirtier, no more destructive then a child. And let’s be honest here they require less and most behave better than children.

  10. Avatar Of Renee

    Renee

    says:

    First…. I am so sorry for your loss! I lost a golden almost 2 years ago to brain cancer and he was my life so I understand your heartbreak. Goldens have a way of worming their way straight into your heart. Second… the airline should be ashamed of themselves! Not just for your loss but also for the way they handled the situation. A dog is a family member!!! They should have had sympathy even if it had to be faked. I think you should sue them and make them take a good look at their policies and employees. No one should ever be treated with such disrespect even if it is a dog or their humans who have to bear the heartbreak after the loss.

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