Air Canada in hot water over lost dog, dismissive email

Air Canada is facing questions about a dog the airline lost, and an email response from one of the airline's spokesmen that was apparently sent in error and dismissed the need to answer questions about the incident.

Airline searching for 2-year-old greyhound in San Francisco

Air Canada is facing a backlash in the U.S. over a dog that went missing in its care, and a fumbled email from one of its spokesmen. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Air Canada is facing questions about a dog the airline lost, and an email from one of the airline's spokesmen that dismissed the need to answer questions about the incident.

CBS13 Sacramento has posted on its website the message from Air Canada's Peter Fitzpatrick that was apparently sent in error and suggested the airline not follow up on questions about how the animal went missing while in its care.

The dog, Larry, a two-year-old Italian greyhound, went missing in San Francisco on Monday.

Jutta Kulic had found Larry a new home in Canada after the dog’s former owner, Kulic’s friend, died of cancer, according to the news report.

Kulic said Larry was in a crate when she dropped him off, but the dog's flight had been delayed by a day due to a mechanical problem, prompting an employee to take him out of his crate to stretch his legs.

It's feared that Larry (pictured above) was hit by a car after escaping. (Jutta Kulic/Facebook)

Later, Kulic said she received a phone call from the airline saying Larry had run away.

Maria Medina, a reporter at the TV station, emailed Air Canada inquiring about the lost dog and received a response saying a team was trying to locate Larry.

Madina sent a followup request asking what went wrong, and what the airline plans to do to avoid similar incidents in future, at which point she received an email apparently sent in error that dismissed her inquiries.

'Inappropriate comments'

“I think I would just ignore, it is local news doing a story on a lost dog,” Fitzpatrick wrote, according to CBS13. “Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the US media spends its time.”

The TV station showed the email to Kulic, who said she “wouldn’t expect anything different from a company that would allow something like this to happen.”

Fitzpatrick provided a statement to CBC News on Friday, in response to questions about the lost dog and the email to CBS13.

"Air Canada acknowledges inappropriate comments were made to a reporter’s followup questions regarding Larry. Air Canada has been providing the best available information to media on this matter. However, these comments do not refer to the search for Larry by Air Canada employees that is ongoing or our interest in returning him safely," it said.

The statement said the airline has "reached out to local groups involved in animal rescue for assistance. Additionally, we have broadly alerted the airport community and posters are up. There have been reported sightings, and we remain optimistic Larry will be returned."

The Sacramento station said it was also contacted by a second Air Canada spokesperson, who said the airline was investigating how Larry got away.

Kulic told CBC News on Friday that she believes Larry was hit by a car on a freeway entrance ramp, shortly after he went missing.

"What we haven't been able to confirm is whether or not he was killed," she said. "He may or may not be dead but we do know that he was hit."

The CBS13 report, which was posted online late Thursday, had been shared on social media at least 3,800 times and had generated nearly 900 comments by late Friday afternoon.