'I started screaming': Qantas apologises to devastated dog owner after death on plane

Kay Newman's dog Duke.
"I am blessed and so grateful to have been Duke's mum for the past six and half years." Photo credit: Facebook/Kay Newman

Qantas has apologised to a heartbroken Australian woman after her dog died on a Sydney - Melbourne flight in December.

Kay Newman posted an emotional video and story on Facebook about her boxer Duke, who she believes died due to heat exposure.

But Qantas has suggested Duke died from respiratory issues that certain dog breeds are more susceptible to during air travel.

Newman says she became "extremely distressed" while observing Duke waiting on the tarmac, claiming to have seen him endure 39C heat for at least 15 minutes.

Despite being assured he was fine when he was loaded onto the plane, she says she was taken aside by airline staff after landing in Brisbane.

"I started screaming, 'what's wrong, what's happened?'. Then I heard the words I never wanted to hear, 'We have some bad news, I'm sorry but your dog didn't survive the flight and has passed away'," Newman says on Facebook.

"I was beside myself, all I could do was scream 'no, no, no'. I demanded to see Duke because I didn't want to believe what was happening.

"Duke was still in the crate and when I reached in and put my arms around him, I knew immediately why he died because the heat coming from the underside of his body, and the bottom of his crate was immense."

In a statement to media, Qantas said it had "expressed our sympathies to Kay about the passing of her dog, Duke".

"There was an unexpected delay with the flight which meant [Duke] was on the tarmac for longer than usual, but our baggage handlers said Duke was fine when he was loaded onto the aircraft," the airline's spokesperson said.

"Snub-nosed dogs can suffer from respiratory issues which means they are at a higher risk when travelling by air."

But Newman insists Duke's "unimaginable death" was "100 percent preventable".

"Shame on you Qantas! Why did your baggage handlers leave an innocent animal out in that terrible heat for such a long time?" she asks on Facebook.

"Why, when the flight was delayed, didn't any of your staff think to move Duke back indoors to where he could be kept cool until it was time to board? Why were my concerns about Duke ignored on numerous occasions?"

Newman says Duke's death is not an isolated incident and that Qantas should reassess its policies around animal passengers.

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