Losing a cat is a tragedy—whether it’s lost to natural causes or accidents. It’s truly akin to losing a family member because our pets do become part of our family even after a short period of companionship. Air travel has been a magnet for pet tragedy recently with news of pet deaths surfacing from all over the US. It’s certainly a warning sign for pet owners to be very vigilant when traveling and flying with their pets. We can remember the time when a French bulldog name Kokito died while on board a United Airlines flight in March, or when a Pomeranian died on a Delta flight just earlier this month. Delta is on the hot seat again with the latest news about a cat lost on the tarmac and later found dead under a conveyor belt at the Baltimore-Washington Airport just recently.
Bells is an all-black, 2-year old cat that was traveling by air for the first time with another cat Charlee along with their family, the Dales. The Dales are a military family, and they were in the process of moving to Hawaii along with their pets. Sandra Dale is the type of parent who is always prepared, and preparations for this trip was especially important considering that the cats are flying for the first time. Dale and her 13-year-old son made sure that they arrived at the airport with three and a half hours to spare before their 9:30am flight. However, airport situations are never predictable; and sometimes, regardless of how early you are, there can still be a possibility that you’d end up late for your flight.
That’s exactly what happened to the Dales that unfortunate day. The three and a half hours they had to spare were all wasted while waiting to get through the TSA check-in line. This inevitably was the reason why they ran late for their flight. The family did not have a single moment to spare when they reached the TSA checkpoint. The Dales took both their cats out for inspection, and as soon as inspection was finished, they placed Bells and Charlee back into their crates. Sandra remembers closing the carrier vividly, as it’s something she’s quite accustomed to doing. She believes that whoever handled Bells’ carrier must not have known how to use the carrier properly. There’s a possibility that Bells’ carrier was opened again and closed improperly.
At that point, Sandra left the cats to the care of the TSA workers, who reassured her that their cats were going to be taken care of. Sandra and her son arrived to the departure gate three minutes after the scheduled take off time, and Sandra was just glad that they actually made it to the flight. She sat down with nothing but relief, at least until she heard cats mentioned on the flight’s radio, and Sandra was asked to take a phone call. She didn’t panic yet, thinking that Delta was probably trying to get them into a new flight. However, the lady on the phone informed Sandra that one of the cats wasn’t in its crate. Somehow, Bells had escaped from the carrier at some point from the moment Sandra left her at the TSA checkpoint to her transport to the plane.
A 10-hour airport search ensued, but with no hope of finding Bells, the Dale family retired to a nearby hotel to get some rest. They got the bad news the following morning. Bells was found under a conveyor belt, completely lifeless. Sandra believes that Bells died of other causes. After a few tests conducted by a veterinarian, Sandra believes that Bells was run over and placed under the conveyor belt afterwards. When Sandra saw Bells that morning, the dead cat was still warm and soft to the touch.
Sandra puts the blame on TSA for not having their family properly checked in given the amount of time they had to spare. She believes that had they not been rushing, proper attention and care would’ve been given to the cats. While Delta had been helpful and completely apologetic in the matter, there’s no stopping the devastation and frustration that the Dale family has been going through with the loss of their beloved Bells. Delta has since provided the Dale family with a new flight to Hawaii, but a review of the unfortunate events that led to the death of Bells is still ongoing.