Readers in Japan may have noticed the past several weeks have been damn hot. And while the mainstream press can be relied upon as a source of statistics regarding the number of daily heatstroke victims, it takes an Internet newspaper, J-Cast News (Aug 13), to relate the tragic tale of poor little Popo the chihuahua, who earlier this month shuffled off this mortal coil while aboard a domestic flight with his owner.
The tragic story began when Popo's owner, a 15-year-old girl, went to Haneda domestic airport accompanied by her parents, and checked him in at All Nippon Airway's pet service prior to boarding a flight to one of the offshore islands (not specified). The charge for this is usually a flat 5,000 yen.
When she got there about an hour later and reclaimed Popo's pet cage, she was aghast to see him flat on his back, all four legs pointing northward.
"Help, someone," she tweeted just after 3 p.m. on Aug 12. "I don't know what's the matter." And "When I got off the plane, Popo wasn't moving."
While still conscious, the pup's pupils were dilated and his tongue appeared discolored. She quickly tried to administer water, but Popo went into convulsions. Her father groped for a pulse but couldn't find one.
The bereaved family took Popo to a nearby veterinary office. The vet speculated that the dog had very likely been kept in an overheated room. His body temperature was a remarkably high 47 degrees Centigrade.
Popo's owner began lashing out at the airline via Twitter.
ANA's PR spokesperson was later quoted as saying that the dog had been in good health prior to check-in, at which time he had also been given water, and the carrier was therefore "not at fault."
To this, the distraught young owner retorted via Twitter, "If it hadn't been for their mistake, he wouldn't have died."
J-Cast News notes that ANA's website claims that for its pet service, animals are kept in air conditioned rooms set to temperatures approximately the same as for people before they are loaded on board. However, it also carries this warning: "In some cases during summer, while on the tarmac a pet may be exposed to reflected temperatures that are higher than ambient air temperatures."
Aug 12 happened to be blazing hot and Popo's owner is blaming reflected heat from the tarmac for her dog's demise.
"Unless a forensic autopsy is performed, it's not possible to be specific (as to the cause of death)," said a spokesperson for the airline. He nevertheless admitted that the dog had been placed in a spot beneath a plane that had "just pulled up from a blazing sky" and therefore agreed to the possibility that reflected heat was the likely cause.
The carrier also confirmed that Popo was the only canine casualty in the previous month and said that it intended to "implement all possible measures to see that this does not reoccur."
While no mention was made of the size of any consolatum, it appears that the girl's family has signed an agreement not to demand ANA's culpability in the pet's death or seek further compensation through a lawsuit.
While some posters on websites have questioned the common sense of taking a pet along on a vacation, others have pointed out that because the airline accepts payment for transporting a living creature, it should be obliged to take whatever precautions necessary to ensure its safe arrival.© Japan Today