Airline under fire after 'operational' mistake kills man’s beloved dog

Joca the Golden Retriever was put on the wrong flight. When owner João Fantazzini was reunited, the pooch was found dead.

João Fantazzini with his Golden Retriever Joca (left) with Joca on his own (right).
João Fantazzini with his Golden Retriever Joca. Source: Jam Press

A man has accused an airline of “killing” his beloved pet dog after it was put on the wrong flight.

João Fantazzini had given the carrier a vet’s note stating that his golden retriever Joca was fit enough to endure the two-and-a-half-hour journey. But due to a blunder by the airline, his five-year-old pet pooch spent almost eight hours travelling.

Joca was supposed to have been flown from Guarulhos International Airport near São Paulo, Brazil, to Sinop. But he was mistakenly placed on a plane bound for Fortaleza. When he landed, the airline sent him back to Guarulhos.

After João landed in Sinop, he asked where he needed to go to pick up his pooch, which was supposed to have arrived on a different flight to his own, which didn’t permit pets. He was told that Joca would have to be flown back to Guarulhos because he’d been sent to the wrong destination.

A selfie of João Fantazzini with his best friend Joca in the car.
João Fantazzini with his best friend Joca. Source: Jam Press

João chose to fly back to Guarulhos to meet his beloved pooch in person. But when he got there, he found his pet dead inside the airline’s dog crate.

“I arrived at the airport and a woman, who said she was a manager, approached me," He said. “She said that Joca hadn’t been well. The vet had certified a two-and-a-half-hour flight for him, but they made an almost-eight-hour flight.”

Joca had spent three-and-a-half hours on the flight to Fortaleza. Then he’d spent about one-and-a-half hours waiting on the runway for the flight back, which had lasted another 3.5 hours.

According to João, Joca was left shut in his crate in 36C heat as he waited for the flight back. He claims the pooch wasn’t even given any food. According to his death certificate, Joca died from a cardiopulmonary arrest.

"I think what hurts me the most is knowing that he suffered in there because it’s not fair for him to have died like this," João told local media.

"Sometimes I feel like it was selfish of me. I could have left him here in São Paulo, but it was always me and him, always. Whenever I left my flat, he would wait for me all day in front of the door. He was like a son to me."

The airline, Gol, said in a statement that Joca had been put on the flight to Fortaleza “due to an operational error”.

“Unfortunately, right after the flight landed at Guarulhos Airport from Fortaleza, we were surprised by the animal’s death," a spokesperson added. “The company is providing all necessary support to the owner, and the investigation into the details of the incident is being conducted with top priority by our team.

“We sympathise with Joca’s owner’s suffering. We understand his pain and deeply mourn the loss of his beloved pet.”

- Jam Press

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