Doctor sues Air Canada over death of his dog

  • Dec. 15, 2004 2:00 p.m.

A family doctor who has worked on the islands is suing Air Canada over the death of his dog during a flight earlier this year.
Dr. Darren Jakubec said his dog, Sila, a healthy five-year-old black lab cross, was killed in the cargo hold of a flight while traveling from Smithers to Winnipeg in January 2004. The family had been on their way to a job in Wawa, in northern Ontario.
Dr. Jakubec said he received little sympathy from Air Canada managers when he landed in Winnipeg at 11 pm on a freezing cold January night and discovered Sila was dead. He managed to take the dog to a veterinarian for an autopsy, he said, which revealed she probably died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“This was what we considered to be a routine trip,” Dr. Jakubec said. “We had no idea that there was a risk. We have no idea they could carbon monoxide her to death.”
He took the step of launching a lawsuit Monday (Dec. 13) in Ontario Superior Court after he was unable to get any kind of explanation or apology from Air Canada.
“I want this never to happen to anybody else,” he said. “They’ve never told us what happenedÂ… If you’ve tried to deal with Air Canada over a ticket you know what it’s like.”
In addition to suing the airline, Dr. Jakubec is asking the Canadian Transportation Agency to get some of Air Canada’s rules changed, so that the airline is more accountable for live animals it transports. He also wants to alert the public to the fact that this kind of tragedy can happen.
“They’re going to do this again and they may be getting away with it more than I know,” he said. “I’m motivated to see that they don’t do it again.”
Sila, who came from a pound in Ontario, spent the first year of her life in Queen Charlotte while Dr. Jakubec was working at the clinic there. Dr. Jakubec, who makes his home in Smithers but travels to work in remote communities all over Canada, said he and his wife have adopted a new dog, but it will not be going on any planes. From now on, their dog will stay at home or come with them in their car.
Dr. Jakubec said he will probably be returning to the Charlottes to work within the next six months, in part because he can drive here from Smithers.

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