At the end of December 2021, Courtney Cipar and her French Bulldog Charlie boarded a Southwest Airlines flight from Nashville to Philadelphia. Cipar had paid to have Charlie in the cabin with her during the flight.
While still in the air, 3-year-old Charlie allegedly suffered from heatstroke and a seizure. Though Cipar, an X-ray technician, sensed her dog having difficulty breathing, she says flight personnel would not allow her to take him out of the carrier.
Before they even arrived at their final destination, Charlie died. His heartbroken and furious mom blames Southwest for this horrifying ending.
Cipar’s attorney, Evan Oshan, gave a statement to People on her behalf:
“When I attempted to take Charlie out of the carrier or even open the carrier, the Southwest airline personnel threatened to turn the plane back and that I would have consequences. As Charlie moaned for air, I was unable to help him, and he died.”
No Signs Of Trouble Prior To Flying
In a Facebook post mourning Charlie, Cipar explained that her dog had been on many flights and experienced changes in air pressure and temperature prior to this. Her dog, she claims, was perfectly healthy before getting on that plane.
“Charlie has been my travel companion from day one, been on 20 plus flights, driven cross country, summited several mountains. As a traveling X-ray tech he has been my support system on the road and in life.”
Cipar says the temperature on her plane was too high and that she had asked staff to lower it. She also tried to vent the carrier by opening it slightly for Charlie, which Southwest would not allow.
“I was told either close it or the whole flight will turn around and you will lose your ticket and the whole flight will be delayed despite me trying to explain that if he kept breathing like that he would die, the flight attendant just talked over me.”
Feeling both helpless and furious, Cipar added:
“He is irreplaceable and I am heartbroken, living a nightmare.”
Waiting On Substantial Response From Southwest
On Dec. 27th, six days after Charlie’s death, Southwest contacted Cipar and said they would refund her ticket for the flight. Otherwise, according to Oshan, the airline has provided “no response whatsoever” to him or his client regarding Charlie’s death.
A Southwest spokesperson did provide a statement to TMZ:
“We are disheartened to learn about the passing of this customer’s pet and have been in contact with her to learn more. Tens of thousands of customers travel with cats and dogs every month on Southwest. While onboard the aircraft, pets must remain in their well-ventilated carriers at all times for the comfort and safety of fellow customers.”
It seems like that aforementioned rule could be amended in dire circumstances, Cipar says.
“This is why laws need to be changed for animals on board air crafts. I should have been allowed to attend to his basic needs instead I had to attend to his dead body.”
It’s now been four weeks since Charlie’s death. Will the airline change its rigid policy, or will the dog’s death be in vain?