A dog traveling in the cargo hold of an Air France-KLM flight from Amsterdam to Los Angeles was found dead on arrival Tuesday afternoon.
“The dog’s owner has been notified and we express our condolences,” said a statement from Air France-KLM sent to HuffPost.
The plane was a KLM Boeing 747-400, which arrived at Los Angeles International Airport about 1 p.m. local time. The airline’s statement said that a necropsy would determine the cause of death and that the dog had been loaded correctly according to KLM’s pet policy.
However, TMZ, which was the first to report on the incident, cited an anonymous airline employee “with knowledge of the incident” as saying that the dog had been incorrectly loaded in the cargo hold and experienced a loss of oxygen during the flight.
KLM’s pet policy states that cats or dogs up to 18 pounds can travel in the cabin with passengers. Pets over that weight but under 165 pounds can fly in a ventilated part of the cargo hold. Certain breeds inclined to respiratory difficulties, such as English and French bulldogs, Boston terriers and pugs, are not permitted to fly.
TMZ, which said it had obtained photos of the deceased dog but declined to publish them, reported that the dog looked like a husky.
Though pets dying in plane cargo holds is relatively rare, it does happen. Animal welfare experts typically recommend avoiding transporting a pet in cargo if possible. Besides the risk of death or injury, flying in cargo can be extremely stressful for pets due to factors like fluctuating temperatures, rough or improper handling, and inadequate ventilation.
This article has been updated with information on the Air France-KLM pet policy and to reflect that the plane was a KLM plane.