Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kitten Dies After Delta

By now, I am sure a few of you have read the horrendous story that is circulating through the web- it details the loss of a Sphynx kitten after it is flown via Delta cargo and then stuck within the cargo area for an extra 50 minutes upon landing. The owner is basically handed a hypothermic, near-dead kitten that dies as she rushes her to the emergency hospital...

So you know the story and I'm sure it has made most of you stop and pause and consider your shipping options if you ever want a new kitten, puppy, or critter that you simply cannot obtain locally.

I'm not interested in rehashing the exact details of Snicker's story. I was one of the first people to read about the tragic loss of this kitten and I am a very avid supporter of the owner, who underwent not just a horrific loss, but under the eyes of her two young children as well.

What I'd like to discuss today is why Snicker's story has touched me and why it has also angered me. It has reignited an anger that has laid dormant since my loss of Neala...

It never fails... Whenever I see Snickers' story posted, I always note many sympathetic people, almost in tears over the story and the kitten's death, yet I also always note one or two snide commentators that have to prove that they are superior to the rest of us lowly human beings and they go on a rampage about how 'Good breeders would never have done XYZ' or even, 'I blame the owner for being so selfish as to allow the breeder to ship, etc...'

This attitude of superiority crawls under my skin and I can feel flames starting to shoot out of my eyes every time I read/see it!

We are all human beings! We make mistakes! We learn from those mistakes! As a rescuer- I cannot even detail the number of mistakes I have made that probably cost kittens their lives! From learning how to tube feed to simply knowing that 'this color' poop means 'this bacteria'- we all learn from our experiences. The breeder had always shipped kittens at 12 weeks and had shipped through Delta for twelve years! The owner trusted the breeder- and shouldn't she? If you have a good rapport with a breeder, that's usually a wonderful thing! The owner did not stop to question the breeder's decision to ship and the breeder did not question Delta's rules about shipping in cold weather- both the owner and the breeder believed Delta when they stated that the kitten would be in a climate controlled area!

I challenge anyone who questions this to call Delta cargo and ask them about shipping an animal. I throw this gauntlet down in challenge! Although you may say, "Well, I would never!"- plenty of people trust the PROFESSIONALS.

In fact- you trust the professionals every single day! I trusted a professional veterinarian surgical center to operate on a tiny Sphynx kitten in July. I trusted them to keep her warm, keep her nourished, and that they would do everything within their power for her survival. I was wrong! Neala DIED because I laid my trust, implicitly, with PROFESSIONALS. Yet, no one blamed me for going to the surgical center to save Neala's life! Why not?

Yes, you can say that the breeder chose to ship- so that automatically makes her culpable. But really? I chose the surgeon for Neala! You can say that shipping was optional- so was Neala's surgery! Sure, it gave her the optimum chance of a good life, but the breeder believed shipping this kitten to its new owner would give this kitten the optimum chance of a good life as well!

You can blame the owner- because she allowed the breeder to ship Snickers, but once again- the owner trusted the BREEDER (in her eyes- the professional) who in turn trusted the airlines (in her eyes- the professionals).

When you push the blame of this horrible accident off onto the breeder or the owner, you negate the death of this kitten! You lose the importance of the message being spread- which is that wintertime transport of animals needs to be stricter. Perhaps it's simply the hairless animals that need a more stringent rule for shipping. After all, the brachiocephalic breeds (English Bulldogs, Frenchies, Persians, etc) of pets have stricter laws in place! Maybe there needs to be stricter laws in place for Sphynx, Peterbalds, Rexes, Chinese Cresteds, and the American Hairless Terrier! Yet, how can one go forward with this issue when people are not blaming the airlines, but pushing the blame onto those who trusted the professionals?

Yes! Snickers' Mom would say right now- she made a mistake shipping Snickers in the wintertime. Perhaps even Snickers' breeder would say the same. Yet we all make mistakes and we must live with them. The fact is- the airline failed in their duty to safely deliver that kitten from point A to point B.

I cannot tell you how disheartening it is to see people point the fingers anywhere, but at the airline! DELTA FAILED! DELTA KILLED THE KITTEN! Snickers is dead not because Snickers' Mom allowed her to be shipped nor because the breeder chose to ship during the winter months- the kitten died because Delta had an issue and no contingency plan in place for said issue when it occured!

It sickens me to the pit of my stomach when I read the nasty comments about Snickers' owner as well as her breeder. I don't know either person personally. I still don't know what cattery Snickers came from, but I don't think this knowledge will validate or invalidate the loss of Snickers! This kitten was a valuable life! Her loss should not be in vain!

Unfortunately, as humans, we are prone to trusting the professionals and that is the only MISTAKE Snickers' Mom made.


  1. I agree. It's Delta's fault. I'm sure the breeder feels terrible about what happened. You trust someone to do a job that they are paid to do and then they don't do it. They were at fault. I have had 3 cats shipped by air all by Delta, they were checked on or supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes. Sometimes thats the only way you can get your kitten or cat is by flying them in. Everyone does their best and you just have to put trust in others. We are all purring and praying for Snickers mom and for her new family that never had a chance to know her.

  2. My first thought when I read this terrible story was of you and Neala.
    I personally detest Delta Airlines because of an incident from twenty years ago and the way they tried to buy their way out. Their attitude of "it's just a dog" and "everything has a price" made me furious.
    I do hold Delta Airlines responsible for Snickers' death, with or without my own experience.
    Anyone with half a point of IQ could see that poor kitten would be more subject to the cold than most animals, due to lack of fur. I had a Devon Rex and live in Houston TX, a warm climate. He could wear a sweater year round and not complain. I imagine a Sphynx would be even more cold-natured.
    I cannot comprehend that anyone would blame the breeder over this, and it seems that the breeder had a long and uneventful relationship with Delta before this unspeakable tragedy happened.
    Put the blame squarely where it belongs... Delta Airlines!

  3. I'm back... been thinking.
    I wish someone would stop blaming the breeders and the buyers and put the blame where it belongs... the airline who killed the poor kitten.
    This incident is not the arena to judge breeding of cats versus strays, etc.
    I suspect they are trying to turn it that way, either to further their own agenda or to take the "heat" off Delta Airlines.
    Tiny Snickers died a horrible death and it is the fault of Delta Airlines, pure and simple.
    I wish someone had the time to devote to a blog against the airlines and carriers we trust our furries to, keep records of those who kill, who have the worst records, the best records, etc.
    I don't have the time or I would.
    Maybe someday.
    Or maybe someone out there today, reading about Snickers, will decide to do something.
    I'll be alot of us here on The Cat Blogosphere will give them all the support we can.

  4. I agree completely. Delta is entirely at fault and to blame the breeder or new owner is just sick.

  5. We agree 100%. If you are told by Delta the cat would be in a climate controlled environment and would be delivered safely to you. Why wouldn't you believe them. I am sure the owner and breeder both wish they had done things differently, but it is NOT their fault that Delta did not live up to it's responsibilities to keep the cat in a climate controlled environment and to quickly deliver it to the owner after landing as promised.

  6. WRONG! How many of you have shipped kittens? I amazed that Delta took the kitten. Did you realize that animals must have a health certificate to travel and it states to what temperatures the animal is acclimated. Why in the world a vet sign off on this thing and why would anyone ship a kitten in such cold temperatures?? . We have gotten kittens from Moscow Russis in late December. That breeder ONLY used KLM because of the heated,climate controlled holds. There is information missing.... something that we are not being told. I don't think we are getting the whole story. I suspect the buyer was so desperate that they bullied the breeder in to shipping the kitten. If I had been the person shipping the kitten, I would have told the buyer, shipping is delayed because of temperatures. NOTHING would have changed my mind- period.

  7. how utterly sad this is...I can only see this wee being slowly closing its eyes forever in that dark cold hold! another angel has wings now and is in heaven...we purrrr our sadness and pray for change to take place in the hearts of those who should have known better...

  8. Alexi needs to stop trolling and hurting people's feelings. Does Alexi not realize that we know that veterinarian certificates are required? I don't care if my pet is purebred or DSH/DLH. I only want them traveling the safest way possible. What part of the cargo door was jammed and couldn't be opened for fifty minutes and that the container stops being climate controlled when the plane shuts down (but doesn't tell people that) does Alexi not get?? Delta MUST come up with contingency plans to keep the climate controls up and running regardless of if the plane is in air or on the ground. Geez Louise!

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  10. I'm just very sad because of the loss of the kitten.

  11. We're sad for the loss of a kitten. And we are wondering if the hold was ever climate controlled. Delta has admitted to 'a problem' with the plane. The hold should have held some heat even without the climate control, just from the mass in the hold that would (was supposed) to be at reasonable temperature. Fifty minutes after the plane was scheduled to land, the new owners were handed a stone cold kitten. I wonder if Snickers would have gotten that cold even sitting on the runway outside the plane in that length of time.