Danielle Di Fiore with Kakota and Elvis.Source:Supplied
Danielle Di Fiore with Kakota and Elvis.Source:Supplied

'Qantas killed my best friend': Pet dies after flight

A 21-YEAR-OLD woman who paid Qantas $2510 to transport her beloved pet bird to London accused the airline for refusing to take responsibility for the bird's death from hypothermia.

Danielle Di Fiore, who established an online fundraiser to fund legal action against Qantas, after unsuccessfully battled the airline for four months since the March flight. She wants answers over how her pet froze to death.

Ms Di Fiore moved from Australia to London in March with her boyfriend and her "best friends", two year-old Indian ringneck parrots Kakota and Elvis.

She said she spent six months researching how best to take her "babies" with her but when the birds arrived in London on March 10 in separate crates, Elvis was fine but Kakota was "barely alive with hypothermia".

"Her crate overflow [sic] of water, they called me and told me, I rushed to the animal reception centre where I got her released," Ms Di Fiore wrote.

"I kept her on a hot water bottle, then on our way home she started having seizures and went to the nearest vet rushed inside and she died of hypothermia."

The arrival report from the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre said the bird was "in very poor condition" when it arrived.

A GoFundMe page established by Danielle Di Fiore to take legal action against the airline.Source:Supplied
A GoFundMe page established by Danielle Di Fiore to take legal action against the airline.Source:Supplied

 

The report said the diameter of the perch was too large for that particular species to perch comfortably on, and the bottom of the crate where it had lay for most of the flight was "sodden" with water.

"Water staining was apparent round all sides of the container and at least (one quarter) up, indicating some issue with handling," the report said.

The report also noted that a dog that arrived on the same flight, though in a different hold to the birds, was "very cold on arrival, with the temperature of the bottom of the crate registering 8 centigrade".

Ms Di Fiore said both Qantas and the animal transport company, Skypets, had refused to take responsibility for the death or reimburse her for any costs.

Qantas told news.com.au it will be "reaching out" to Ms Di Fiore.

In addition to the $2500 she paid for her birds' fare, she said she has spent a further $830 on vet checks and quarantine paperwork prior to departure and a further $1670 on legal costs following the death to try to get some answers from the airline and transport company, bringing the total to nearly $5000.

"It was a painstakingly long and expensive process and which resulting [sic] in my baby dieing [sic] and I made calls after calls to Qantas and emails for investigations to find out why there was so much water, why was it so cold in the hold?" she wrote.

"Why were there issues with handling? Qantas or Skypets will not take responsibility when my baby has died a slow painful neglectful death."

Skypets spokeswoman Sue Rogers insisted her company was not to blame for the bird's death and admitted she had declined Ms Di Fiore's requests for a refund.

"Of course everyone's sorry but no-one is going to give any money back," she said. "I have a statement from the vet at the (Heathrow) animal reception centre that it was fit and healthy and ready to fly when it left there. Something has happened on that flight.

"There is nothing that we did in that job that was negligent, the crate met our standards and we are not responsible for the loading on the aircraft, the airline is."

She said the size of the bird's perch was determined by an international travel crate company and only ground staff in Dubai, where the flight stopped over, could answer why the bottom of the crate, where the bird was found lying, was soaked with water.

"If you are looking to blame people, then why not blame the ground handling staff at Dubai airport," she said.

In a statement, a Qantas spokesman said the airline would be "reaching out to Danielle".

"We understand that the death of Kakota the parrot has been distressing for Danielle," the spokesman said.

"Every year, we fly thousands of pets around Australia and the globe. On this occasion, other animals onboard the aircraft including a second parrot arrived in good health.

"Customers are informed at the time of booking that animals can react differently to flying onboard aircraft particularly on a long journey from Australia to the UK and everything is done to ensure animals are transported safely and comfortably.

"The cargo hold was heated appropriately and the parrot was found to be in good health during the transit in Dubai."

Ms Di Fiore has established a GoFundMe page in an attempt to raise the $5000 in legal costs to take Qantas and Skypets to court.

"I can't afford to pay any more money towards this and the lawyers fees to get me through the court will be £3000 which means I couldn't do anything else which is why I made this page to reach out for help," she wrote.

"I'm a hard worker which does what I can for the community and I just need help to take down this multi billion dollar company that I paid a service for that neglectfully transported my baby which resulted in death.

"Kakota my baby bird was more like my child ... I handraised and hand fed her from eight weeks old and she has never left my sight for more than a few hours ... [she] was my best friend, she did everything with me - showers, making dinner, watching TV, keeping me company when I was scared, we were inseparable."

Skypets' Ms Rogers said in three decades of operation, her company had never had a bird die during or after a flight.

"I know Danielle wants a reason, she wants someone to blame, I get that, it's upsetting but the truth of the matter is, at some stage in that flight, the crate has gone on its side," she said.

"They are tiny pets with small body masses. We don't know, we won't ever know, no-one was there, no-one can say what happened."

"But we are a cog in a chain, we work together with all of these people and there are a lot of issues that contributed to that poor bird dying."

She said she had warned Ms Di Fiore that the delicate nature of birds made long haul flights arduous for them and insisted the young woman was made fully aware of the risks.

"No-one has done anything wrong, Danielle has taken the risk," she said.

"We said, 'it's always tricky sending birds, they can die at the drop of a hat'.

"We say you have to be very careful but that doesn't guarantee the bird won't suffer from the stress of the flight, they have a small body mass."

But Ms Di Fiore insisted her legal action was a bid to stop other animals being harmed on long-haul flights.

"I paid for a service which was guaranteeing the safety of my pet just like a passenger but it's like she was treated like baggage," she said.

"There's been a severe error and no one will take responsibility and it will happen again if nothing is done!"

To donate to Ms Di Fiore's fundraising page, go to GoFundMe.

News Corp Australia

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