United Airlines killed my golden retriever, says supermodel

Maggie Rizer, a well-known fashion model, blames United Airlines for the death of her Golden Retriever, Bea, who suffered heat stroke and died during a cross-country flight two weeks ago. From NY Daily News: "Their plane had been delayed in New York and the captain told passengers to turn on their air vents to help circulate air, but Rizer believes gusts of hot air killed her dog in the belly of the plane, where there isn’t the same quality of circulation as there is in the cabin."


  1. Airlines shouldn’t allow live animals to be checked as baggage. Pet owners should know better than to check their pets like baggage. This is why services like Pet Air exist.

      1. I am sure no airline is going to allow an uncontained pet in the cabin, and I doubt the kennel for something like a golden retriever would fit securely on a seat.

        1. Ryan Air in the UK had plans to introduce standing-only flights. That should solve the problem of fitting kennels onto seats.

          1. And if they ever got around to putting in the pay toilets, then they could have animals and pets pooping in the aisle.

        2. I have seen many dogs in the cabin, relatively unconstrained. This is very common if you fly into NYC right before the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. I’ve also seen the Target dog on a flight. He sat in first class.

          1. That is an interesting point. Although, every corporate policy is ultimately at the mercy of employees to enforce (since, as far as I know, there aren’t actually any federal regulations regarding pets in airplane cabins), so it’s possible that the attendants just didn’t feel like fighting the passengers about keeping their pets contained.

            I assume the main reason airlines don’t allow pets to move freely in the cabin is due to liability issues if the pet bites or scratches someone. I assume there is also a potential problem with smaller pets crawling into mechanical spaces. With something like the Target dog, I bet the airlines don’t really care since it is probably Target (or rather, the insurance company covering the dog) that would be picking up the check if the dog bit someone.

          2. Besides bites and scratches, there are also allergies. I know people who couldn’t fly alongside cats or dogs.

            There ought to be a better solution than this, though.

    1. if you read Consumerist, Delta’s just as bad for pets.  checking them as baggage is too risky for animals you actually care to see again.  assuming you have a dog too large to fit under the seat in front of you, and as long as you don’t leave the continent, driving is a safer option…or kennel them until you get back.

      1. Absolutely. It doesn’t take much research to figure out that checking a pet as baggage is pretty risky. If you wouldn’t strap your dog to the roof of your car, I don’t see how you could put your pet in an unpressurized cargo hold.

        1. The baggage holds in all modern airliners are pressurized.  Typically, the forward hold area is also heated.  

  2. She made a choice to put her pet at risk. She made a decision to take a long summer vacation thousands of miles away and take her dog with her. She made a choice to fly that really hot day. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that these were not the dog’s decisions. These were her decisions. When you buy/adopt a pet (or are gifted a show dog) you need to take responsibility because at best your dog will have the intelligence of a two or three year old.

    Yes, it’s tragic because the dog died. Yes, it was really hot that day and United probably could have done something different. United shouldn’t have boarded pets in that heat (many airlines have restrictions against boarding dogs in intense heat, I’m not certain if Continental’s old policy carried over to United). But she should have taken the first step and told the airline that she wasn’t comfortable flying that day in those conditions. I have pity for the dog, but the beginning of this tragic series of events lies with the owner.

    If you love your pet you’ll do what’s best and not fly with them.

    1. I call bullshit. Yes, the owner should bear some responsibility. However, airlines advertise and market this option as if it is a safe method of travel. As such, they bear a great deal of the responsibility for not taking even minimal precautions to protect the health of the animals they have been paid to transport. Maggie didn’t secretly sneak her dog into the hold.

      Placing the blame solely on the pet owner is equivalent to saying that parents whose children get shaken by the nanny should be held fully accountable as everyone know that nannies sometimes shake babies. Or saying that if your loved one gets breast implants and ends up dying of infection at the hospital that it is totally her fault as, everyone knows hospitals are rife with bacteria.

      I think the responses would have been a lot different if the case wasn’t about  “Maggie Rizer, Supermodel” and did not involve the word “vacation.” That seems to have brought out all the personal responsibility flag wavers in a way that the same story, hypothetically told about a child and their dog on the way to stay with a grandparent, would not have.

      1.  If a company offers a service such as taking pets on airplanes, they should take steps to ensure that the pets survive, like putting in proper climate control. Just because a pet Can survive certain conditions doesn’t mean they should have to.

  3. I can’t imagine putting one of my pets in the hold. Just wouldn’t do it, they get cranky enough in a car.
    I’m sure the airlines must have disclaimers and concerns about the reliability of the hold otherwise they’d be putting people down there as well as baggage and animals.

    1. Absolutely right.  Headline writers everywhere: someone who models for a living is, by definition, a model.  Unless you also routinely refer to people as “superplumbers” or “superlawyers”.  And I’m pretty sure you don’t.

      (If Antinous becomes a model, of course, there will be an exception.)

      1. Yes, but just as there are trial lawyers and corporate lawyers, you can talk about hand models or fashion models. So what else should you call someone who models supers?

        (And if that doesn’t sound like a thing, what else could you call what some of these people are supposed to be modeling?)

          1. Uh, mostly, they start out as insecure 15 year-olds, and they make a career out of it because someone was willing to pay them more in a week than an average worker makes in a year.  Who wouldn’t do it if someone was offering?

      2. A model is someone whose picture appears in the department store ads in your local paper.  Or in weight loss ads in the back of magazines.

        A supermodel appears in full page ads in national/international magazines and/or does runway work for top fashion designers.

        There really are tens of thousands of models who aren’t supermodels.

    2. What’s the line between supermodel and model? I’d guess that if your day rate was once $30,000 and that you accumulated more than $7 million then that qualifies you as a super model.

      1. I’d say if you haven’t appeared in a George Michael or Guns N’ Roses video, it’s gonna be extra-hard to establish supermodel cred.  Can be done, but very difficult.

  4. I’ve traveled A LOT with pets in a car. Pets are great fun on holiday. But I’ve never stuck on in a plane. I think if you have to travel by plane, stick them in a kennel. I think the pet would be happier.

  5. You dont fly dogs on vacation you take dogs on driving vacation.  The only time dogs should be flying is when you move across country and even then,  drive it.  I would never check my golden.  Look how shitty they treat humans who can speak up.

    1. We moved our Golden Retriever (I capitalized it because they have, as a whole, indicated a preference for the capitalization) from Spain to Japan to USA to UK back to USA. He’s fine. He’s a lot older than he was, but he’s a happy old man. The worst issue we had was having to throw away a blanket that wasn’t worth cleaning.

    2. Ironically, the risk of the *humans* dying is much higher on a driving trip than it is on a flying trip.

      For a pet lover worried about their animal arriving alive, it seems like the X% chance of *everyone* dying in a car crash would need to be weighed against the Y% chance of Fido dying of hyperthermia in the airline’s care (where both X and Y are several orders of magnitude higher than the 0.00003% chance of an airliner crash).

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