Flight Crew Springs Into Action To Help A French Bulldog Struggling To Breathe

"Some may reduce the value of the life because Darcy is a canine, I do not."

Michelle and Steven Burt have been traveling back and forth between their homes in Boston, Mass. and Florida for 12 years with their small dogs "without incident." But, on their recent JetBlue flight home to Boston, they noticed that their 3-year-old French bulldog, Darcy, was in distress.

In a letter to the airline posted on the Everyday Jumpseater Facebook page, Michelle explains that Darcy was pushing her head against the mesh part of the carrier and not lying down, despite Steven instructing her to. The couple was concerned because she is typically a very obedient dog. 


"I thought perhaps she was warm and loosened the zipper on her carry-on so she could poke her face out," wrote Michelle. "I noticed that her tongue was blue and I am aware that is a sign of insufficient oxygen (Hypoxia)."

Michelle took Darcy out from under the seat and put her on her lap to relax and cool down and gave her some water. In the letter, she explains that a flight attendant came over to inform her that the regulation was pets should be kept in carriers under the seat. The dog owner apologized, but explained Darcy was in distress. 

The attentive crew then sprang into action.

Two crew members, Renaud Fenster and Diane Asher, brought ice for the dog. Spencer, who owns a French bulldog himself, brought a small oxygen tank with a mask when he saw that the dog was still panting heavily.

"I placed the mask over her face, and within a few minutes she became alert and after a short time she didn’t want the mask," Michelle explained. "I believe Renaud and Diane saved a life. Some may reduce the value of the life because Darcy is a canine, I do not."

The dog owner praised the JetBlue staff for treating all of its passengers with attentiveness and care. "We all are affected by cabin pressure and oxygen fluctuations, human, canine and feline, etc., but the fact that the attendants were responsive and attentive to the situation may have saved Darcy's life," she continued. "Though some may reduce the value of a pets life and applying lifesaving efforts to a dog, the attendants applied their skills in a humane and caring way that I like to think represents the best in all of us as human beings."

Michelle also praised the family behind her for offering to help and suggesting using their baby wipes to cool the pup down.

Darcy has made a full recovery and the family says they will not fly with her in the future until they get clearance from their vet.

HuffPost reports that JetBlue said in a statement: "We all want to make sure everyone has a safe and comfortable fight, including those with four legs. We're thankful for our crew's quick thinking and glad everyone involved was breathing easier when the plane landed in Worcester."

It's this idea and the kindness of strangers that Michelle is taking away from the experience. "My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world."


CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a misspelling of Renaud Fenster's name.


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