Seattle dog owner claims pet died on Hawaiian Airlines flight, unclear how or why

A Seattle dog owner claims his 2-year-old pit bull died while flying on Hawaiian Airlines, but he still has no idea how or why.

Randall Carpio, a naturopathic doctor, was flying his pit bull, Louis, from Hawaii to Seattle. Carpio said Louis was about to become an emotional support animal for his patients. Carpio called Louis “one in a million.”

Louis was also described as an “Isabella Lilac,” which Carpio’s attorney, Evan Oshan, described as a very rare breed. Louis’ grandfather was sold for $750,000 to a buyer in Taiwan, according to Oshan.

Carpio said he was waiting for his dog to fly in from Hawaii but received a text message from his father notifying him that Louis had died. (Carpio’s father was the original shipper on file with Hawaiian Airlines; Carpio was a consignee.) Carpio then called Hawaiian Airlines. Caprio claims a representative asked him for permission to perform a necropsy (an autopsy on an animal).

“They described (Louis) had died and that they wanted to send his body for a necropsy,” Carpio said. “They sent me a document through email verifying that I had mentioned that it was OK, that I OK-ed the necropsy to see what happened to my dog. After that, I didn’t hear from them until the Monday after that. So, a few days later, I called a few times, inquiring about what happened but (received) no real, definitive evidence that my dog had died.”

“We have no report. We have no photos. We have absolutely nothing, only the third-party word from the airline saying a necropsy was done and that’s that,” Oshan, an attorney representing Carpio, said.

Carpio said Louis was cremated shortly after and he was told he’d receive Louis’ ashes in the mail. Carpio said the remains were sent to his workplace, but he was not there when the delivery was made. Because the delivery required a signature, Carpio said Louis is currently sitting inside an Everett shipping facility.

“He’s in a very small tin that’s encased in a bag, much like a Crown Royal bag which is how (the representative) explained it to me,” Carpio said.

Oshan, who has represented dog owners in different lawsuits against various airlines before, said this case stands out because of how hard it’s been to find out what exactly happened.

“This is highly irregular. When a necropsy is done, it’s a very detailed procedure. Organs are removed, they’re weighed. There’s a lot of work that’s done. To just say there’s a necropsy performed, then send a box of I don’t know what? It’s highly unacceptable,” he said.

KIRO 7 reached out to Hawaiian Airlines for a comment and this was their response:

“We are deeply sorry about the passing of our customer’s dog. We shared the necropsy results with the owner a week ago, and have returned the dog’s remains.”

According to Oshan, the airline did respond to TMZ and claimed it did provide the necropsy report to Randall. Oshan denies that claim.

Airlines are legally required to report animal deaths and injuries to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The data is posted monthly on the agency’s Air Travel Consumer Report. The most recent report shows animal deaths up until May. Three animal deaths from air travel have been reported in 2021 so far, with all fatalities occurring in May. None were flying on Hawaiian Airlines.

On its website, Hawaiian Airlines discourages customers from allowing brachycephalic (short-nosed) animals to travel as checked baggage “due to respiratory difficulties an animal may experience while in transit and in Hawaii’s tropical climate.”

Carpio said “no one recommended me against sending” the 2-year-old pit bull.

Carpio and Oshan are not filing a lawsuit, for now. They both claim they are trying to find out what happened to Louis.

“If I saw definitive evidence that he had died, if they had showed me photographic proof that they were doing an autopsy, I would feel less sad and hurtful and lied to,” Carpio said.

“I think we will definitely get to the bottom of things. I think we’re going to find the bigger story. And when that bigger story comes out, hopefully it’s going to be a wakeup call to Hawaiian Airlines, to the entire airline industry,” Oshan said. “The airline play the game which they are playing with my client right now. They try to brush it under the carpet, they say a necropsy was performed, and they let it go. Most people aren’t as vigorous or has the medical background my client has.”