It wasn't 3-year-old Mastiff Bam Bam's first time to fly in August of 2012.
But it would be his last.
He and his owner Michael Jarboe departed Miami with a layover in Houston.
"It was 95 degrees in Houston in the shade," Jarboe said.
Jarboe says he picked United Airlines because of it's pet safe program which touts keeping pets on layovers in air-conditioned vans.
But on the tarmac in Houston Jarboe says he saw Bam Bam on a luggage carrier.
"He was so hot and his tongue was hanging down," Jarboe said. "I've never seen him that hot."
Bad news was waiting in San Francisco Jarboe's final destination.
"He said I'm sorry he didn't make it and it's so surreal," Jarboe said. "What do you mean he didn't make it we just put him on and he was fine."
According to Department of Transportation records Bam Bam was one of 29 pets that died during air travel in 2012.
26 others were injured, one was lost.
In just the last 6 years 300 pets on planes turned up missing, injured or dead.
"Pets are in danger basically every moment you're in the airport," said Mary Beth Melchior.
Two years ago Melchoir became an advocate for pets on planes after her friends cat Jack went missing at JFK Airport.
"The investigations that take place after there's been an incident are tremendously minimal," Melchior said.
The Department of Agriculture investigates pet deaths during air travel but nobody is really watching.
"The airlines have no oversight for their reporting and it's watch dog groups like Where's Jack inc. that make sure they do report whats actually happened," said Melchior.
Get this. If a pet flys alone and ends up injured lost or dead no one has to investigate or even report it.
"First and foremost we recommend that you don't fly with your pet if that's an option," said Monica Schmidt with the Houston Humane Society.
If your pet must fly the Humane Society recommends getting a direct flight and have your pet checked over by your vet.
Breeds with smushed faces like pugs and boxers should never fly.
"They have a restricted airflow anyway and it's just exasperated when you try to take them on a flight," Schmidt said.
As for Bam Bam United says it paid for a necropsy and his death was due to a heart attack not a result of transit related handling.
United says it refunded the 650 dollar transport fare for the dog and is working with Jarboe on additional compensation.
Meanwhile he's left to wonder if Bam Bam's final thoughts were why won't my best friend open the door and let me in.
"You sit here thinking is he waiting for me like he waited for me at the kitchen door," Jarboe said while chocking back tears, " Is it so hot he's thinking in a minute he'll come I'll just sit here and be a good boy."
KDFW FOX 4
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