China Eastern Airlines has attracted criticism for its handling of the death of a golden retriever, the second case of a dog being harmed on its flights in under a month.

Doudou was put on a two-hour China Eastern flight from Shenzhen to Wuhan on Sunday morning, according to online news outlet The Paper.

Airline staff discovered that the dog displayed no signs of life as they were unloading the plane, and that the cage was damaged, according to a notice issued by the airline’s Wuhan office.

Photos: Weibo.

The dog’s owner, a woman surnamed Zuo, said her father waited nearly three hours for the dog at the Wuhan airport, only to have staff tell him that it had died. Photos he snapped showed that some of the metal wires on the cage were bent and broken.

“It must have been bitten off by it before it died, I guess it must have been very uncomfortable,” Zou said.

Doudou’s transport was arranged through Dogeer, a Shenzhen company established in 2007 specialising in pet transport. The company offered Zuo 5,000 RMB (HK$5,740) in compensation, which she has refused to accept.

China Eastern told Beijing News that it had signed an agreement with Dogeer stating that the agency would be responsible should the animal come to harm during transport. It said it was investigating the golden retriever’s cause of death.

Zuo said she did not know about the statement and is waiting for the results of the investigation.

‘Regular cargo’

She said on Weibo that the airline admitted that it was at fault when her sister visited its Shanghai headquarters. It also said that it would compensate her according to the standard of 100 RMB (HK$115) per kilogramme for regular cargo.

Photo: Boeing.

Excluding the cage, the dog weighed 35kg, which meant Zuo would receive 3,500 RMB (HK$4,018), Zuo said.

“Firstly, they admitted fault, but they did not issue an official apology. China Eastern treated Doudou like a regular piece of luggage – these kinds of compensation standards are unacceptable, from an emotional point of view,” Zuo told mainland outlet The Cover.

“I never wanted any kind of huge compensation, I just want airlines to pay attention, and not let it happen multiple times, and push responsibility onto others,” she said on Weibo.

The airline was recently criticised for using excessive force after a dog escaped from its cage and bolted across the tarmac at the end of May. Its owner said it was returned to him covered with blood, and suffered cuts and bruises.

HKFP has contacted China Eastern for comment.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.