Golden retriever, 2 years old, dies on NYC- SF airline flight

I never met Bea in person, but I knew her through her Grandma’s photos on Facebook. I was so sad to find out that this adorable dog died at age 2 on a United airline flight from New York to San Francisco. Bea’s tragic story makes me very nervous about how pets are treated while flying.

People.com reports: 

But when Rizer, 34, her husband, Alex Mehran, and their 10-month-old son Zander landed in San Francisco on Sept. 3, they found out one of their family members had been lost along the way: Bea had died.

The golden retriever’s passing was inexplicable. Bea was young and had undergone a requisite physical examination – and was found to be in perfect health – just days before the flight. Golden retrievers don’t usually experience problems during air travel.

“We’re completely devastated,” Rizer tells PEOPLE. “[The airline] didn’t even have an excuse.”

In a passionate blog post on Rizer’s website, Bea Makes Three, she paints a picture of United employees reluctant to admit wrongdoing or share any information about the company’s internal investigation.

According to Rizer, her veterinarian performed a full necropsy and determined the cause of death to be heatstroke, “the absolute worst thing I could have imagined happening to her,” Rizer says. “She died 30 feet below us, alone and scared. Nobody was there to help her because someone made a mistake.”

According to Rizer, her veterinarian performed a full necropsy and determined the cause of death to be heatstroke, “the absolute worst thing I could have imagined happening to her,” Rizer says. “She died 30 feet below us, alone and scared. Nobody was there to help her because someone made a mistake.”

In a statement, United tells PEOPLE that, “We understand that the loss of a beloved pet is difficult and express our condolences to Ms. Rizer and her family for their loss. After careful review, we found there were no mechanical operational issues with Bea’s flight and also determined she was in a temperature-controlled environment for her entire journey. We would like [to] finalize the review but are unable until we receive a copy of the necropsy.”

Rizer considered filing a lawsuit but hopes that speaking out about her experience will help inform people about the risks of traveling with a pet in cargo.

“I don’t think dogs should be treated like bags,” she says. “They’re living, breathing creatures and parts of people’s families.” She adds that she will never fly with her dogs again.

Please read Maggie Rizer’s blog post about her dog, Bea, and share Bea’s story to do what you can to help protect pets and keep them safer in the future.

3 thoughts on “Golden retriever, 2 years old, dies on NYC- SF airline flight

  1. This is heart-wrenching. I’m sharing this w/two SF based UAL pilot pals who are nuts about their dog to find out ‘who/what/when/where and wth happened’ in this horrific tale. :-( Will ping you w/what I find out, as they don’t take this stuff lightly and I’m SURE are aghast.

  2. I wish no pet harm, and the airline should make further efforts to find out what happened, but I have serious enough allergies to pets that if I am travelling with dogs, I suffer badly. Once I about to go across country and I saw that someone had a lap dog, not a guide dog. I inquired about it and was told “you can switch to a different flight if you are so concerned.” I asked to make sure that I sat as far away as possible from the dog owner. Thankfully, I did not suffer too badly. But wheezing at 35,000 ft is not a pleasant experience.

  3. O MY WORD!!!! That is so sad, I could throw up. That poor dog must have been in a really bad place to suffer heat stroke. That makes me sick!! and how AWFUL and deplorable for the airlines to treat the case so dismissively. MY HEART!! Oh, that is just the worst thing ever. The worst. That poor family.

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