Air Canada acknowledged a spokesman made "inappropriate comments" to a reporter ó but stopped short of apologizing ó after a dog escaped while waiting for an Air Canada flight to its new home in British Columbia on Monday.
Jutta Kulic is stunned that airline staff in San Francisco let Larry, a two-year-old Italian greyhound, out of its crate against her wishes. She fears Larry might be dead.
Kulic flew from her Ohio home to California earlier this week to attend a dog show and to put Larry on a plane bound for its new home in Campbell River, B.C.
"We really felt that the safest way to do it would be the Air Canada flight," Kulic said. "I left specific instructions that the kennel never be opened...There was no reason for them to open that kennel."
After Kulic crated the dog safely with zipties sealing the front door, and with enough food, water and absorbent material to keep it safe and comfortable for 24-48 hours, airline staff called to tell her Larry's 11:15 a.m. flight had been cancelled and the dog was booked on an evening flight.
At 6:30 p.m., Kulic was shocked to hear from Air Canada that Larry was missing.
"One of their employees was just feeling very bad that the dog was still in his carrier since the morning and needed to be taken out," she said.
Kulic has been trying to piece together what happened to Larry, and believes, based on reports from witnesses, that the dog was hit on a highway on-ramp near the airport sometime late Monday afternoon. That's where the trail goes cold.
"At this time, the only thing that we really don't know is whether he was stunned (or) whether he was killed," she said.
Air Canada said in a statement to CBS Sacramento Thursday that it had a team looking for the dog, but in response to further e-mail queries from the station, spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick sent an e-mail apparently intended for a co-worker.
"I think I would just ignore, it is local news doing a story on a lost dog," CBS reported the e-mail as saying. "Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the U.S. media spends its time."
In a statement Friday, Air Canada said it "acknowledges inappropriate comments were made in response to a reporter's followup questions for additional details regarding Larry.
"Air Canada has been providing the best available information to media on this matter. However, these comments do not reflect Air Canada's standards or professionalism, and do not refer to the search for Larry by Air Canada employees, which is ongoing."
The airline said it "remain(s) optimistic Larry will be returned."