This is a useful update on the story of Milo, a cat who was lost in transit at Dulles Airport, Washington DC. Milo and his owner were flying with Lufthansa. I wrote about it several days ago (opens a new tab/window).
USA Today reached out to Milo’s owner Molly McFadden and she told them that it looks very much like the baggage handlers had carelessly damaged the crate in which Milo was being transported. I say ‘carelessly’ because that must be the conclusion based on the report.
McFadden said that his cage door had been pushed in and that the four latches which held the cat carrier’s door in place were missing.
“There were latches on all four corners of the crate and none of them were still attached to the crate.”
McFadden was travelling with two cats, Milo and Beau. They were both placed in the hold of the Lufthansa aircraft as their carriers were too large for the cabin.
“Beau, my other cat, was in the crate and it was locked, but Milo’s crate was empty and the cage door was pushed in…”
MacFadden said that somewhere between off-load from the aircraft and transportation to the terminal the cat carrier was damaged and Milo escaped.
So it seems that the baggage handlers at Dulles Airport were careless in their handling of Milo’s carrier. The door was caved in leaving the crate open. Milo darted out and he could be anywhere at the airport or surrounding area.
Lufthansa originally believed that Milo might have escaped the carrier while in the aircraft and searched but that idea has now been discounted.
Lufthansa has given the matter the highest priory but as at 10th Oct Milo is still missing. A spokesperson for the airline, Christina Semmel said:
“At this stage, we are working right alongside the owner in terms of looking for Milo. The safety of the animals that we transport is always of our utmost concern and we certainly abide by each and every safety measure.”
Comment: What is the lesson learned? Firstly, if at all possible don’t put your cat in the hold of an aircraft. Take him/her in the cabin; obvious, but it needs to be said.
It is also obvious to me that cat owners need to be aware that airport baggage handlers can be pretty rough in handling baggage so cat carriers and crates need to be up to the task of withstanding careless handling. The door to this crate should have been able to resist the impact. MacFadden said that the four latches were missing. The door was pushed in. This door needed to be more robust.
On the face of it and based on what has been reported, the failure here was a combination of (1) a crate which was not robust enough and (2) baggage handlers who were at least momentarily careless in their handling of this cat carrier.