A FAMILY’s beloved dog was “cooked alive” on United Airlines leaving two young kids heartbroken, a dad has claimed.
Furious John Paul Ciancimino, 45, told how his son Jon, nine, and daughter Alysse, five, were left “devastated” by the agonising death of pet pooch Rock.
The highly trained protection canine and treasured “member of the family” was being flown to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after training in Boston, Massachusetts, in August 2017.
But tragedy struck during a stopover in Newark, New Jersey, and John Paul – waiting for the flight to land – says he was told there had been “an emergency” before finding out his dog had died.
It was only later that he says he discovered the full horrific details of what really happened to the “one in a million” animal.
United claim the dog died after “injuring itself while chewing through and escaping his kennel during the flight”.
But his family say they believe he was left in the baking hot hold in the middle of August during the stopover.
And a vet’s report seen by Sun Online suggests he died from heatstroke, with the poor pooch collapsing in agony before his organs shut down.
John Paul said: “He was fried – they literally fried him. He was completely blind by the time they found him.”
The fuming dad said his kids were left distraught and he’s yet to even receive an apology from the airline.
He told Sun Online: “Rock was a member of the family. He was a special dog, one in a million. He was very loving and affectionate. The kids were devastated. They still are.”
“My son always talks about him. He was heartbroken. Rock was a part of the family.”
As well as the emotional anguish, John Paul said he spent at least $68,000 (£54,000) on the dog’s training – but is yet to receive a penny in compensation.
He said: “It’s not a matter of money. It’s the fact that there was never an acknowledgement of what they’ve done.
“They treat your pets – your loved ones – as a piece of luggage.”
A spokesperson for United Airlines told Sun Online the company was “saddened” by Rock’s death and insisted it is “committed to the safety and comfort of all the pets that travel with us”.
They said: “Upon the pet’s arrival in Newark, our team discovered that the dog injured itself while chewing through and escaping his kennel during the flight.
“We immediately transported the dog to a local animal hospital for medical care, where he passed away.
“When this unfortunate passing occurred, we were in contact with the customer and refunded the shipping costs, as well as covering all related veterinary bills.”
Official figures show that in the year Rock lost his life, more animals died on board United than any other US airline.
Some 18 pets perished on United flights in 2017, compared with two each on American, Delta, and Alaska, according to America’s Department of Transportation.
John Paul’s lawyer Evan Oshan urged United to “do the right thing” as “no living thing should die the way Rock died”.
The attorney has represented a string of animal lovers whose beloved pets have died on planes.
He was hired by Michael Dellagrazie, whose Pomeranian was found dead in a Delta Airlines crate during a stopover in Detroit in 2018.
He also represented the owners of a French bulldog puppy that died earlier that year when a United Airlines flight attendant ordered the dog’s carrier to be stowed in an overhead bin.
And he was taken on by the parents of a heartbroken boy, 6, whose nine-month-old French bulldog Roger died on KLM in July when staff allegedly left him without water for 18 hours.