On February 16, the day after the two-year-old dog died on a flight from Perth to Coolangatta, Matraville Veterinary Hospital in Sydney undertook an autopsy to determine Charlie’s case of death.
A Australian Gold Coast construction worker is suing Virgin and animal transporters Jetpets for $25,000, alleging their negligence killed his Australian bulldog.
They were best friends who looked out for each other, so when Sharn Quarterman’s beloved dog Charlie died in transit to Queensland, Australia he called in lawyers.
Struggling to hold back tears, the 27-year-old who flies in and out of Western Australia for work said he was shocked when an autopsy revealed how traumatic Charlie’s last hours would have been.
Dr Nima Rahmani found Charlie’s “lungs were collapsed and shrunk” and put his death down to “heat stress and respiratory exhaustion”.
Charlie died from heat stress after being left on a hot tarmac en route from Perth to the Gold Coast. His owner is suing the airline and pet carrier.
Mr Quarterman said he drove Charlie to the airport and just before he handed him to Jetpets to load on to the evening Virgin flight, he gave him a walk and a drink. He paid $680 for Charlie’s flight.
While it was a night flight, Perth had been in the midst of a heatwave and the temperature that night was about 40C.
Mr Quarterman said he received a phone call from Jetpets hours later to say that Charlie had died by the time the flight had landed in Sydney.
“I couldn’t believe it. How did it happen?” he said.
Mr Quarterman said Charlie had become his defacto family in WA and he even rented a house so they could be close to walking tracks.
“I can’t even look at photos (because it’s too upsetting) and I’m not ready to get another dog,” he said.
Jetpets refused to comment, only to say the matter was being handled by its lawyers.
Virgin issued a brief statement. “We can confirm this matter is under investigation and as such we are unable to comment at this stage,” a spokeswoman for Virgin said.
Tracey Jackson, of Couper Geysen Family and Animal Law, which is representing Mr Quarterman, said people and businesses that dealt with pets needed to understand how precious they were.
“(They need to) treat them as irreplaceable members of our family – not property,” Mrs Jackson said.