Family Flying to Chicago Says Dog Was Left in Germany

Originally from St. Louis, the MacEnulty family said that after living in Germany for a year, they were moving back to the United States following the death of John MacEnulty's mother

A family flying from Germany to Chicago said they landed at O'Hare International Airport Friday only to find that their dog had been left in Germany.

Dawn and John MacEnulty said they landed in Chicago Thursday afternoon to discover that their 9-year-old beagle and Australian shepherd mix, Joey, which was scheduled to be on a separate Lufthansa flight, was removed from the plane before takeoff.

Originally from St. Louis, the MacEnulty family said that after living in Germany for a year, they were moving back to the United States following the death of John MacEnulty's mother. 

They booked their flight through United Airlines on March 15, but used a company called Gradlyn Petshipping to handle the transport of Joey and the family's cat, Molly, per the airline's recommendation.

But Gradlyn told the family it was unable to book the pets on the same flight as the family because United Airlines had suspended its PetSafe reservations program beginning March 20.

The animals were instead scheduled to be on a Lufthansa flight departing 30 minutes after the family's flight, and they were cleared to fly. 

Upon landing, the couple said they turned their phones on and received a text message telling them Joey was taken off the Lufthansa flight because he was anxious and had scratched his nose. Molly the cat was on the flight and arrived Thursday evening.

"We got a text that they had to pull him off the plane and we did not know much more than that," said Dawn MacEnulty. 

Lufthansa Group said in a statement that the family's dog was "kept from flying and remained from Frankfurt as he was not fit to fly according to the veterinarian that examined the animal."

"We are working closely with United Airlines and once the dog is given the approval to travel, he will be reunited with his family," the airline said in a statement. 

The family was told the dog would be flown to Chicago as soon as he is healthy with no additional charges.

Gradlyn did not respond to NBC Chicago's requests for comment. 

"It really sucks," Dawn MacEnulty said, adding that she and her family paid $1,700 for Molly and Joey's transport and had started a GoFundMe to raise money for the travel expenses. 

"It’s terrible, the fact that we can’t get any answers," she continued. "I’m really disheartened and will never transport an animal again."

Joey is expected to return to the U.S. Wednesday afternoon. 

The incident is the latest in a string of animal travel problems making headlines in recent weeks.

It follows the announcement from United Airlines, which said it was halting PetSafe reservations while it reviewed the service that ships animals as cargo. 

The company said in announcing the change that it would honor all pet transports booked before March 20, which the MacEnultys say should have included their travel. But United said the flight information was not confirmed in time. 

Earlier this month, a French bulldog died after a flight attendant ordered a passenger to put the pet carrier in the overhead bin. 

Another mishap involved a German shepherd being shipped to Japan instead of Kansas. After that incident, United chartered a private jet to return the German shepherd back from Japan to the U.S. Two days later another flight made an unplanned landing in Ohio because it was carrying a dog that was put on the wrong plane.

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