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Delta accidentally sent a puppy on a dayslong trip across the country

A Delta Air Lines jet sits at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta on Oct. 13, 2016. (Associated Press)
A Delta Air Lines jet sits at a gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta on Oct. 13, 2016. (Associated Press)
By Lindsey Bever Washington Post

An 8-week-old puppy headed to his new home in Idaho was mistakenly flown thousands of miles around the country, landing in at least four other states before reaching his destination, his owner said.

The owner, Josh Schlaich, told NBC affiliate KTVB that he was expecting Delta Air Lines to deliver his dog Saturday, but instead he received a call from an airline employee in Detroit, saying the pup was being kept at a boarding facility overnight. From there, the pup was flown in a crate to Minneapolis, but the airline said he was then “misrouted” to Las Vegas and sent to Salt Lake City on his way to his home in Boise, according to CNN.

Schlaich told KTVB that when got to Boise Airport on Sunday to pick up his dog, the airline gave him the wrong one.

He said it was, in actuality, his dog’s litter mate. Both of them had been sent from a Virginia breeder to Boise, he said.

“We went for a couple of hours not really knowing where this dog was,” Schlaich told the station. “We didn’t really know how it would be taken care of at the boarding facility. The dog has been in a crate for two days and it’s an 8-week-old puppy.”

Ultimately, the puppy arrived safely, Schlaich said.

The latest misadventure comes amid national attention and heightened concerns over airlines’ handling of animals.

Following the mishap over the weekend, Delta Air Lines apologized Tuesday “for the delayed shipment of a dog.”

“We know pets are important members of the family and apologize for the delayed shipment of a dog, which is in the hands of its owner, after it was routed through incorrect connecting points on its way to Boise,” the airline said in a statement. “Delta teams worked quickly to reunite the dog and his owner, while remaining in constant contact with the customer throughout the process to update him on the status of his pet. We have fully refunded the shipping costs and have initiated an immediate review procedures to understand what happened.”

The issue came to light when Schlaich, the animal’s owner, posted a message over the weekend on the airline’s Facebook page, trying to track down his dog.

It read:

“Hey Delta, was supposed to receive my 8-week old pup this evening in Delta Terminal – Boise Airport but instead got a “No Caller ID” call from an inconsiderate and uninformed person at your Delta Terminal – Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport saying that they’re sending him to an unknown boarding location because of a flight that was delayed by 30 minutes. Was then given the number of the boarding facility – a disconnected line. Was not given a call back number by Detroit person, and the customer service would not give me their direct line. Tried calling Delta Cargo customer service, only to be yelled at by the rep and hung up on. No idea where my dog is, or what conditions he’ll be placed under for the next 24 or more hours. Don’t know when he will come into Boise tomorrow. No idea who to call. Absolutely ridiculous customer service.”

It appears the post has since been removed.

Schlaich later spoke with KTVB about the ordeal, describing the moment Saturday he got the call from the airline.

“They said, ‘Hey, just wanted to let you know the dog’s flight has been delayed and the dog is going to stay the night here,’” he told the station. “They said, ‘Here’s the number of a person who’s going to take care of it, his name is Chris. You need to call them if you want any more information, thanks, bye.’”

Schlaich said the number was disconnected.

“It’s a culmination of uncaring customer service and bad logistics,” Schlaich told the station about the whole experience.

Earlier this month, United Airlines had to divert a flight when a dog bound for Akron, Ohio, was loaded onto the wrong plane. Another one was mistakenly flown to Japan. And a 10-month-old dog died after a United flight attendant forced a passenger to put the puppy in an overhead compartment during a three-hour flight.

In an update over the weekend on Delta’s Facebook page, Schlaich said his puppy, Ren, had been delivered safely (after traveling more than 3,700 miles, crisscrossing the country).

“We all know that organizations are made up of people — people that can innocently make errors and sometimes be careless with details. Regardless, pup seems happy and healthy, bringing him to the vet today. Thank you all,” he added.

Kristine Phillips contributed to this report.

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