Two dogs belonging to actor John Travolta were killed on the tarmac of Bangor International Airport in Maine last week in what airport and city officials describe as an unfortunate accident.
Travolta and his family landed at the airport well before dawn May 13, and an unidentified person who was not a member of the Travolta family but "a liaison" for them took the two dogs for a walk. A pickup truck driven by an airport employee was approaching the aircraft when it apparently struck and killed the animals.
The incident came to light after the Bangor Daily News obtained an e-mail sent to the nine members of the city council from the city manager describing the incident.
"The Airport has sent a floral arrangement and card to the Travolta's, who are on an island off the coast of Maine," Interim City Manager Robert Farra said in one of two emails to council members Friday.
Travolta's family was supposed to stop back in Bangor on Sunday. At that time, Farra was planning on having an airport employee meet them "to again apologize ask if there is anything further we can do."
The police are investigating the incident, he told the council. Farrar would not comment and referred all questions to the airport.
"At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Thursday May 13, 2010 an airplane carrying members of the John Travolta family landed at BIA. While there, two small dogs on leashes were taken for walk by someone who is not a family member," Airport Director Rebecca Hupp said in an e-mail to ABC News. "An airport service pickup truck was approaching the airplane to service the aircraft and did not see the dogs. Unfortunately the dogs were struck and killed. The Airport is investigating the accident. Out of respect for the family's privacy the Airport/City will make no further comment."
Hupp told ABC News that the pickup truck was being driven by an airport employee who was supervising other airport workers providing ground-handling services to the aircraft. She would not say if the worker has been suspended or not.
. Bangor police would not release the police report from the incident, also referring questions to Hupp. Paul Bloch, a representative for Travolta, also referred all questions to the airport.
Travolta, 56, and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, 47, own a home on the island of Islesboro off the Maine coast. It is possible that the family was heading there after landing at Bangor. The "Saturday Night Fever" and "Pulp Fiction" actor is an accomplished pilot, but it was not clear if he was flying the plane and who else was with him.
No information was available about the dogs' breed.
"Clearly, this is an unfortunate accident," Hupp told the Bangor Daily News. "Our deepest sympathies are with the family."
Travolta Family Tragedies
The incident is the latest misfortune to hit the Travolta family.
In January 2009, the Travolta's 16-year-old son, Jett, died after suffering a seizure while vacationing with family in the Bahamas. Travolta and Preston have one other child.
Then it became public that a paramedic who treated Jett and at least one other allegedly tried to extort the family for up to $25 million over a "refusal to transport" document signed by Travolta, which turned out to have no bearing on Jett's case. The case ended in a mistrial.
Most incidents where a dog is injured or lost happen on commercial airlines. The Travolta family was flying on a private jet.
Just the other week, Delta Air Lines had a dog apparently flee from its custody while changing planes in Mexico City. Then there was Vivi, a prized Whippet that somehow got separated from her cage at New York's JFK while on her way home from the Westminster Kennel Club Show in February 2006.
Flying With Pets
If you do decide to fly commercial with your pet, here are some important tips:
Decide on cabin or cargo: Figure out what's best for your animal, but do not assume the airline you scored cheap tickets with accepts pets. Read the website carefully before you buy.
Make Pet Reservations: This is especially true for cabin travelers. Many airlines accept only five or so pets per flight.
Breed Alert: Some airlines will not carry certain dogs in cargo, especially short-snouted breeds such as pugs or bulldogs.
Weather Watch: If you're traveling to frigid cities in winter or hot spots in summer, check the airline's pet policy. Some won't carry animals in cargo during weather extremes.
ID and Paperwork: Be sure you know what the airline requires in terms of health documentation, and bring the paperwork with you. And plaster your animal's name and your contact info on every piece of paper and on the pet carrier.
No Drugs: The American Veterinary Medical Association says no to sedating animals that are going to fly, and Pet Airways, for example, will not accept any animal that appears to be drugged (sedatives can adversely affect balance and equilibrium, as well as create respiratory and cardiovascular problems).
No Food: It's generally recommended that animals travel on "an almost empty stomach."
Carrier Notes: Your pet's carrier must be large enough for the animal to stand up in, and turn around in or the airline won't accept the pet. And make sure your pet is familiar with the sensation of being in a carrier. Non-crate trained animals may balk and bark.