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The owner involved in the most-recent airline dog death in the U.S. accused Delta Air Lines of trying to cover up his beloved pet's death on Sunday and said the airline appeared to have washed evidence related to the case.

05 Haziran 2018 - 02:00

The owner involved in the most-recent airline dog death in the U.S. accused Delta Air Lines of trying to cover up his beloved pet's death on Sunday and said the airline appeared to have washed evidence related to the case.

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Michael Dellegrazie said his Pomeranian, Alejandro, died on a flight from Phoenix to Newark, New Jersey, where he and his girlfriend are relocating, while traveling in a kennel stored in the jet's cargo area.

“I got the phone call from my girlfriend ... and then she gave me the number to call Delta,” Dellegrazie said in an interview with ABC News’ "Good Morning America." “They didn't even call me. They called her and he was coming into my possession, so I don’t know why they didn’t call me first.”

Dellegrazie said the notice was the beginning of multiple strange interactions with the airline, which he said appeared reluctant to return the dog’s body.

"PHOTO:Obtained by ABC News
A Pomeranian dog named Alejandro is pictured in this undated photo.

When the owner was given his dog's items back, he was confused as to why they were wet.

“I couldn’t figure out why they were all wet. The only explanation I could find was they were washed. It was a cover up, something to that effect -- it just didn’t feel right,” he said.

Dellegrazie said the airline made him jump through hoops just to get his dog back.

“We just wanted to get our dog back. That’s all we wanted. They started with this, ‘Well you can have the dog back if you do this or this,’ but that’s our dog,” he said.

His attorney, Evan Oshan, said he contacted Delta immediately to “put them on notice” and sent the airline a “preservation of evidence letter.”

“I’m very familiar with the games that the airline industry plays,” Oshan told "GMA." “The airline was extremely arrogant. Very unreceptive. Had a very bullying approach.

“I wanted to get to the bottom of this -- figure this out. We had a dead family member. A dog, but a family member,” he added.

"PHOTO:Obtained by ABC News
A Pomeranian dog named Alejandro is pictured in this undated photo.

Dellegrazie said he eventually retrieved the dog after a “tug of war” with the airline and took it to have an independent necropsy done. The police taped off the pickup area and documented areas of the "crime scene," accoring to his lawyer, but Dellegrazie said the exchange felt surreal.

“We got Alejandro in a very odd way. There was this tug of war going on all day. Even after Alejandro was offered to be given back to us, there was a long wait, we didn’t know what the wait was,” Dellegrazie said.

At first, Delta ordered him to retrieve the dog from “their bondage facility which is absolutely absurd,” he said, but he demanded to have the dog brought out.

“He was brought to the curb area where we were given a carrier, a Delta carrier, and some garbage bags and in one of the garbage bags was Alejandro,” Dellegrazie said. “I was very careful that the handoff was done cleanly, so I opened the first garbage bag and in that I discovered something that shocked me. ... It was a blanket that was full of blood.

“I didn’t know what to think. There was so much blood on that blanket. It was just shocking to see,” he added.

"PHOTO:Obtained by ABC News
A Pomeranian dog named Alejandro is pictured in this undated photo.

Dellegrazie said he was filled with “very strong feelings of pain, anger anger and disgust at the moment, which intensified when he went through the pup’s personal belongings and found them soaking wet.

“It was at that point that I stopped the retrieval of the items and called for a criminal investigation. The area was completely taped off, and some of the items were marked, and some of those are with the Detroit Police Department,” he said.

He said he’s calling for a police investigation and a separate FBI probe to make sure that pets are “treated like they’re passengers.”

“I’m calling upon the FBI to get involved -- not only in Alejandro’s case, but in other cases,” Dellegrazie said.

Delta confirmed the dog’s death in a statement to ABC News over the weekend, but it did not comment on the details of its ongoing investigation into the matter.

“We know pets are an important member of the family and we are focused on the well-being of all animals we transport. Delta is conducting a thorough review of the situation and have been working directly with Alejandro’s family to support them however we can,” the statement said. “As part of that review, we want to find out more about why this may have occurred to ensure it doesn’t happen again and we have offered to have Alejandro evaluated by a veterinarian to learn more.”

Nearly 507,000 animals were transported on U.S. airlines last year, and of those, 24 died, according to Department of Transportation figures. Two died on Delta flights, out of 34,628 transported, while the most pet deaths in 2017 occurred on United by a wide margin (18).

One recent case that got a lot of attention was in March when a dog died on a United Airlines flight after it was put in its carrier into an overhead bin.

The pet's owners -- Catalina Robledo and her young daughter, Sophia Ceballos -- alleged that a flight attendant knew a dog was in the carrier when she told them to put it in the overhead bin, although the attendant denied those claims. United said it would change its pet policy and start issuing bright-colored tags to passengers traveling with pets in the aftermath of the incident.


Kaynak:Abcnews

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