In a heartbreaking incident that underscores the potential dangers of flying with pets, an Oregon family is mourning the loss of their beloved French Bulldog, Frank, who tragically died of overheating on an Alaska Airlines flight from Hawaii to Oregon.

The Engelgau family, who recently relocated from Hawaii to Oregon, were eager to start their new life with their furry companions. However, their journey took a devastating turn at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. As temperatures soared above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, their pets, confined in kennels, began to suffer.

“We’re bringing everything and our pets — and everyone,” Gary Engelgau, originally from Portland, explained. But the excitement of moving quickly turned to despair as their four-year-old French Bulldog, Frank, and their other dogs struggled in the heat.

The Engelgaus repeatedly asked airport staff if they could take their pets out of the kennels to cool down, but their requests were denied. Angie Engelgau recounted the staff’s response: animals are not allowed out of their carriers except in designated pet relief areas, which mix indoor and outdoor spaces.

“It’s unbelievable,” Angie said. “We were just sitting at the gate waiting for our flight, and Frank was panting heavily. We kept asking if we could take them out, but they refused.”

Desperate to provide relief for their pets, the Engelgaus covertly took them out of their kennels for a 40-minute break, giving them water and shade. Despite these efforts, the damage had been done.

Once aboard the aircraft, they again pleaded with the Alaska Airlines flight attendants to allow their dogs out of the kennels due to their visible distress. The flight attendants, adhering strictly to the airline’s policies, denied the request. Pets are required to remain in their carriers during boarding, taxi, takeoff, and landing.

As Frank’s condition worsened, the Engelgaus attempted to cool him down with ice, but it was too late. Gary Engelgau described the moment he realized Frank had passed away: “He didn’t move when I shook him. His eyes were open, and his tongue was hanging out. He wasn’t breathing. That was it.”

A tearful Angie blamed the airline’s rigid policy for Frank’s death, emphasizing that they had clearly seen he was in distress. “They wouldn’t let him out of his kennel despite seeing how much he was suffering,” she lamented.

In response to the tragedy, Angie is calling for changes to airline policies regarding pets. “I want to find whoever I need to find, to create a law that allows dogs to have a chance to live when traveling,” she declared.

Alaska Airlines, in a statement, expressed their sorrow over the incident, affirming their commitment to the well-being of pets. “We take the well-being of our four-legged flyers seriously and are saddened by the reported loss of this guest’s pet,” the statement read. The airline maintained that they had followed protocol and taken extra care during the flight.

The Engelgaus described Frank as a “good dog,” if not “the smartest,” and are left grappling with the senseless loss of their pet.

Unfortunately, this tragic incident is not isolated. In 2022, another dog died on a Hawaiian Airlines flight, prompting the owners to consider legal action. While inflight pet deaths are rare, they do occur. Between January 2015 and December 2020, airlines reported 112 pet deaths to the Department of Transportation, with over 40% occurring aboard United Airlines.

This incident shines a light on the urgent need for airlines to re-evaluate their pet policies to prevent further heartbreak and ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers, two-legged and four-legged alike.