A Canadian man returning home from a vacation in Mexico said last week that Delta lost his dog.
Paco, believed to be a cross between a dachshund and a Jack Russell terrier, was traveling with owner Josiah Allen, 19, and his girlfriend, Erin Docking, as pet cargo on May 3.
The couple had been visiting friends in Puerto Vallarta when they came across the pooch on the beach. The dog was apparently a local stray, so they decided to adopt him. They took him to a vet who vaccinated him, treated an eye infection and gave him two baths to rid him of the ticks that covered his body.
"[Paco] would walk by my side along the beach and along the sidewalks, went to the washroom outside, didn't bark at cars or other dogs and would sleep on the bed next to us curled up in a ball quite contently," Allen wrote in a letter to Consumerist.com, where it was posted last week.
The couple bought an airline-approved pet carrier, according to Allen, and paid the costs to have the dog travel in the cargo area of the plane.
But when they got to the airport in Mexico City, Delta agents said the pet carrier they had bought was too small, according to Allen. The couple ended up signing a form indemnifying Delta against damages if Paco was injured in the cage. Airline employees then assured Allen that Paco would be well taken care of on his way to Detroit.
But when the couple landed there, Paco was nowhere to be found. Delta said he hadn't made it on the flight. The airline said its employees in Mexico City were making sure he was walked and fed, would be on the next flight to Detroit the following day and would be delivered to Allen's house in Ontario.
The next day, Allen called the airline to check on Paco, and Delta said it didn't know where he was.
"I was shocked," Allen wrote. "I had been told explicitly that my dog was being cared for in Mexico City by Delta until he could be flown and delivered to me, and now they were telling me that they didn't know where my dog was."
Finally, after hours on the phone, his friend in Mexico got an answer: Paco had somehow escaped from his cage and was lost. The airline offered to refund Allen the $200 in fees he had paid for his pet -- as a credit toward a future flight on Delta.
"I think that this is completely absurd, as there is no chance of me flying with Delta Air Lines again," Allen wrote.
Since Allen's account was originally posted May 7, reports have said that Delta will reimburse Allen for the costs associated with the dog and will throw in two $200 vouchers for future travel on the airline.
A spokeswoman for Delta would not discuss compensation, but the airline has released a statement saying, "Our staff have conducted exhaustive searches to locate the dog which escaped from its kennel on May 3 in Mexico City. In the meantime, we have been in contact with the dog's owner to inform them of the situation and to offer our sincere apologies that we have been unable to recover the dog. The owner has also been provided compensation, and additionally we have offered to reimburse them for all of the expenses associated with the dog."
Allen told Consumerist.com that the Delta representative who spoke to him was "compassionate and sincere." But, he added, "it's crazy that it took a website like you talking to them before I could talk to someone who could actually do anything."