UPDATE: The missing dog was found safe Saturday in a parking garage near the International Terminal at the airport.
Previous story continues below:
SALT LAKE CITY – A Sandy woman is missing her emotional support dog, and she believes JetBlue Airlines is to blame.
Lilian Ramos and her emotional support dog, Phillip, were getting set to board a JetBlue flight from Salt Lake City to Orlando Thursday night.
She claims she asked an airline employee to escort her and the dog to an area where the dog could relieve himself.
“They came to us and said, ‘You need to board now and you need to give us the animal,’” Ramos said when describing the reaction from airline employees when she asked for assistance.
She says she reluctantly gave the dog to a JetBlue employee, who was supposed to take Phillip to a relief area while Lilian boarded the plane.
“Michael comes back with my Phillip’s collar and leash and hands it to me and says, ‘Here’s the dog’s leash and collar,’ and leaves,” Ramos said.
She was forced to get off the airplane and wait in the terminal area. She says airline personnel informed her the dog broke free from its collar and leash and ran away on the tarmac.
Ramos is upset with JetBlue’s handling of the situation.
“They were heartless,” Ramos said.
In response to a series of questions from FOX 13, JetBlue replied in an email, stating in part, “because the area is outside a different concourse and the flight was boarding, it’s my understanding that the customer elected to expedite the bathroom break and have a crewmember carry her dog to the area, while she continued to board the flight.”
Ramos claims she was forced to hand over the dog.
“I didn’t feel comfortable and I told them, but on the other side they were saying either you board or you lose your flight,” Ramos said.
Salt Lake City International Airport says airline employees should escort animal owners with their pets.
“If there is a passenger that has an animal that needs to go out and use one of those pet relief areas, they will ask the airline to escort them out to that area,” said Nancy Volmer, a spokesperson for Salt Lake City International Airport.
Ramos used a different airline to travel to Orlando Friday. She is there to attend a family reunion, and she wishes she could have her emotional support dog by her side.
“I want Phillip here with my children,” Ramos said.
Both JetBlue and the Salt Lake City International Airport say they are doing all they can to find the lost dog on the airport’s 7,800 acre property.
See below for the full statement from JetBlue as well as their responses to further questions:
"While boarding flight 802 from Salt Lake City to Orlando last night, a customer at the gate requested assistance in transporting an emotional support dog to a pet relief area. Our crewmember accommodated the special request, bringing the dog to a post-security pet relief area designated by the airport for use by properly badged airport employees. While in the pet relief area, the dog escaped from its collar and leash and onto the airport operations area.
Our crewmembers immediately notified the customer and began a search for the dog with the assistance of the owner as well as local airport authorities. All efforts are being made to find the dog and we continue to work with the customers directly while the search continues."
- The customer made the request for her dog to visit the pet relief area while at the gate as boarding was underway, not while on the plane.
- In addition to the customer accessible pet relief area pre-security, the airport offers a designated post-security area in the secure airport operations area. This is available for use by all airlines’ badged airport employees and is located outside a different concourse from our gates. While customers may go with their animals through the sterile airport to a gate near the area, to be escorted by badged employees, because the area is outside a different concourse and the flight was boarding, it’s my understanding that the customer elected to expedite the bathroom break and have a crewmember carry her dog to the area, while she continued to board the flight.
- For the safety of our Customers, and Security of the airport, non-badged individuals aren’t allowed to walk around on the airport operations area unescorted. After the customer was notified of the incident she was escorted around the area for the initial search.