How and Why I died.

After an exciting and arduous 2010 making our new movie, Belinda, Jon and I decided to go live in Berlin. We engaged the services of Sydney based Animal Travel to organise and oversee my trip to Germany. Run by Ken and Narelle Hammond, they came highly recommended within the French Bulldog community and advertise themselves as the “Veterinary Qualified Animal Travel Specialists making International Animal Travel easy for your Very Important Pet…[our] charter is to provide professional, competent and caring pet transportation relocation services…we care about your pets as if they were our own and their safety and comfort is always our highest priority.” These services are offered for a substantial fee, in my case $2297.00.

I had my vaccinations, blood tests and health checks through Dec/Jan and was happy, fit and ready when I was collected by Ken Hammond from Kings Cross at 8.50am on Tues 1st Feb 2011. Belinda had been in Berlin for a week setting up our new home, and Jon and I were on the same Malaysia Airlines flight (MH122/MH6 from Sydney to Germany) departing 3.40pm. Jon gave me a hug and put me in my IATA approved travel crate with my favourite toy. With reassuring words – “don’t worry, we’ll look after him” – Ken Hammond drove me to Matraville Veterinary Hospital for the stringent final export health check. A certificate was issued approving me fit and healthy for travel.

MASkargo are the cargo arm of Malaysia Airlines and promote themselves as caring and responsible animal shippers – they even boast the world’s only 6-Star Animal Hotel that I was to transit through at Kuala Lumpur! At around 12.30pm Ken Hammond delivered me to MASkargo at Sydney Airport. My crate was placed on the hot cement floor of the cargo shed and left unattended. Contrary to assurances from Animal Travel and MASkargo, there was NO supervision, NO special care and NO air-conditioning – it was an area for inanimate cargo. It was a hot day in Sydney and this heat was amplified in the cargo shed. Before long I was starting to show symptoms of heat stress, but no-one cared to notice. This escalated into full blown heat stroke – vomiting, diarrohea, choking, suffocation – and I died a terrible, cruel and lonely death in the confines of my travel cage. When it came time to transit to the plane, MASkargo staff finally noticed that something was wrong. Realising it was obviously heat related, they threw a bucket of water over me in my cage – but I was already dead. Ken Hammond was contacted and returned to collect my body. No-one at MASkargo had even bothered to take me out of my travel cage during all this.

Jon was literally in the queue boarding Malaysia Airlines Flight MH122 when at 3.20pm he received a missed-call message saying there was an “emergency with your dog”. He refused to board the flight, returned the call to MASkargo and was told I was dead. He called Ken Hammond who was already enroute to collect my body. They arranged to meet-up so Jon could see me. Jon’s baggage was removed from the plane and he was escorted through customs and re-admitted into Australia. While Jon waited for Ken Hammond outside International Arrivals, Miguel Rabanal from MASkargo called to offer his condolences. He was unable to explain what had happened, but suggested that maybe I’d “choked on a piece of kibble”.

Ken Hammond arrived at 4pm. Jon took my body from the travel crate and nursed me in the back of the Animal Travel van while Ken Hammond drove to Matraville Veterinary Hospital. I was soaked with water and covered in vomit and diarrohea. My gums were dry and my body was stiff – but I was still very hot. Ken Hammond and Jon were in complete and unambiguous agreement that I had obviously died of heat stroke. Ken Hammond also freely admitted that he and Animal Travel had failed in their duty of care to us – admitting that they had no idea what conditions were like at MASkargo – they had never been past the delivery counter! Animal Travel’s advertised and verbal assurances of a fully checked, responsible, caring and safe International pet-transit from door to door were a lie.

We couldn’t have an autopsy – Ken Hammond told Jon an autopsy would take at least a week to 10 days. We urgently needed to get to Berlin – Belinda was all alone in a foreign country dealing with the most shocking and heartbreaking experience of her life, and Jon was not going to leave Australia without me.

Cremation was expedited through Petrest. The next day Jon asked to inspect the place where I died but was refused by MASkargo and Animal Travel. He also contacted NSW RSPCA and was told by the duty officer that they couldn’t pursue anything without an autopsy confirming cause of death. My ashes were delivered C.O.D at 11am on Thurs 3rd Feb in a package the size of a tennis ball and Jon and I made the 3.40pm Malaysia Airlines flight that afternoon. As we were checking-in, a Malaysia Airlines representative approached Jon with his condolences and offered us free use of the Malaysia Airlines departure lounge.

Jon and Belinda are now in Berlin struggling to cope, their dreams of a new life shattered. MASkargo and Malaysia Airlines have REFUSED to explain what happened, REFUSED to accept responsibility and REFUSED to officially apologise – correspondence of 10 Feb 2011 stating that “a representative from Malaysian Airlines is looking into the matter.” They have not been heard from since.

Animal Travel have REFUSED to accept any responsibility for my death, Ken Hammond writing “I’m upset by the ‘death whilst in your care’ heading on your email, Kransky was fine when I lodged him for the flight”. He has also REFUSED to explain what happened, and REFUSED to sign a statutory declaration that I died of heat stroke. His last contact was 8 Feb 2011. Animal Travel have also neglected to report my death to the RSPCA, DOGS NSW, Animal Welfare League or any of the other organisations displayed on their website.

In short – Animal Travel, MASkargo and Malaysia Airlines are trying to pretend that my death never happened. Jon and Belinda are pursuing further investigation through the RSPCA. They are also pursuing a refund of the thousands of dollars paid upfront to Animal Travel through the CTTT.

In 2005 the wonderful Clover Moore along with the awesome Kings Cross based authors and dog lovers Mandy Sayer and Louis Nowra awarded me “Best Dog” at the Kings Cross Dog Show.

How many other animals die in transit like me every year? We have all heard terrible stories, but there are no public records kept or statistics compiled. Please sign the PETITION supporting animal lover and defender Clover Moore’s call for an investigation into the largely un-regulated/self-regulated pet transport industry. It’s too late for me, but perhaps we can prevent the cruel and negligent death of other precious pets.

My last photo, taken the day of my death, cooling off in the early morning waters of Rushcutter’s Bay. Contact Jon Hewitt.



About kranskybulldog

a little black dog in a big dark world
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127 Responses to How and Why I died.

  1. Gavin says:

    I am completely lost for words…

    I am just starting the process (researching) to take Beni, my best friend, a 2 and a half year old French Bulldog to Sydney from Spain. It would be heartbreaking to leave him here but it would be the only option if there was the slightest risk he could die during the move to Sydney.

    Before I adopted Beni I had no idea how much of an impact he would have on my life. He is my family and it is very hard to understand why certain people, organisations, governments do not see that. He is not allowed on the bus, train or plane. He is not allowed on the beach or in certain parks.

    I have received quotes from various companies and all have quoted around 2,500€ which is more than 3 times the price of my own flight. You would think that paying over 3 times the amount for a economy class seat he would be allowed to sit next to me. He is a lot more cleaner and well behaved than some people I have sat next to on a plane… Beni, and I am sure most French Bulldogs have spent their lives as close as it gets to how a person spends their lives.

    I have been reconsidering taking him with me just for the fact that he has to spend a minimum of 30 days in quarantine. My heart goes out to you and I could not imagine my life if this was to happen to Beni.

    Yours sincerely,

  2. Aaron says:


    It was terribly sad for us to read about what happened to Kransky as it reminded us of what happened to our two year old French Bulldog Scampi recently.

    We went on holiday to New Zealand last November (2011) and left him in the care of Pet Resorts Australia based in Terrigal. Note that we had left him there on several occasions last year and each time, we’d instructed them not to have him outside unsupervised on warm days.

    So it was a massive shock to us when they called us to inform us that they’d found him dead (on the first day of our break). He was in perfectly good health and, although we cannot prove cause of death, not only was he left alone unsupervised, but it was a hot day there (32C). So at the very least, they were negligent and didn’t follow our specific instructions.

    What angers us is that they market themselves as being competent. Here is an extract from their website:

    “….But that’s not enough, because our entire team are all qualified and experienced in the field of pet care.
    New team members are supervised in all aspects of pet care and receive on-going training.
    When your pet stays at Pet Resorts Australia you can be assured they will be in the best hands possible with a close-knit team that prides itself on going that extra mile to make your pet smile…”

    We have not had an apology from them, but we just want to warn other dog owners about this place. We miss him terribly and feel it was such a waste.

    Anyway, again sorry to hear about Kransky.


    • Melissa Welsh (@melissaiswelsh) says:

      Hi Aaron,
      Just came across your post after mistaking a postcard of Kransky for our 2 year old frenchie Boo Radley. Horrified at Jon and Belinda’s story and can not believe that the negligence of what claims to be a qualified and respected company could lead to little Kransky’s death. So very sorry to hear it… Then to read your story in the comments!! Boo has stayed at Pet Resorts Australia in Terrigal on a number of occasions when our parents have not been able to mind her. Never again will I ever check Boo in there and will be sure to tell everyone i know at home on the Central Coast your terrible story. Both Animal Travel and Pet Resorts Australia should have their licenses revoked or alongside testimonials be required to display stories such as these!
      Sorry again to hear both of your stories.

  3. Zach says:

    I am currently living in Germany as i was in the Army stationed here, I have finally after 8 years got my self and family together to move back to Florida. I have a French bulldog named Molly she is 2 and She is my best freind. I have talked to several airlines and not one would allow her to fly in the cabin with the rest of her family. As i heard only cargo i started thinking and researching. This blog here has made my decision on what i have to do. Im falling apart right now writing this, But i found it in the best interest for Molly that i can not take her with me…….and that i Found a freind from my wifes Family who are looking for a Frenchbulldog age 2-4 to adopt and thats what im going to have to do. As bad as i will miss her and regret this whole deal its in the best interest for Molly. I shure dont feel like going to the airport and pick up a souless Molly, I couldnt live with myself if that would happen. At least i know she will live her life out to the fullest and be in great hands where she will be loved like i love her………..

  4. fga glass says:

    We had a similar experience with our staffy last year when we decided to move to Portugal from Sydney. We chose the most expensive and well known animal transport company just to be on the safe side but by the time we picked him up in the Portuguese afternoon weather there was no water in his crate, most of his fur had fallen out and his mouth was like sand paper. I was given assurances by JPs that he would be well looked after. Be warned.

  5. TessieCat says:

    Has anything come of Clover Moore’s request is the big question??!!

    I am thinking of moving overseas and taking my two persian cats which are also high risk like Kransky, it’s making me think twice, but I’d be lost without them.

    My heart truly goes out to you both & Kransky. 😦

    • Dear Tess, Clover’s call is yet to be debated in NSW parliament.

      Please be very mindful of and careful about extremes of temperature in the transit of your persians.
      Try to fly out in cooler months and very early morning or late at night – and be mindful of the same at the other end.
      Don’t take anyone’s word for it – really investigate the conditions of transit – it’s getting on and off the plane that is the most problematic.


    Animal Travel said…
    The blog is incorrect on many many levels and it would be in your best interest to remove any reference to the blog

    You may or may not be aware but this was a Brachycephalic breed and high risk.

    The owner selfishly refused to take our professional advice to leave the dog at home as he was only taking the dog for a 6 month holiday and as you may not be aware it is not as easy as taking your dog on a flight and flying it to a Category 4 country and then flying it back and picking it up from the airport. Lot more to it than that but most people do not realise that

    The owner signed all the necessary documents and waivers with the total understanding that the dog was a very high risk as it was an old dog for the breed

    The dog along with 2 other pets were prepared and processed normally for international travel by us and the airline and the other pets arrived at their destinations without incident

    One has to question why the owner refused point blank to have an autopsy done when 3 AQIS accredited vets urged him strongly to do so as there are many reasons how this incident could have happened

    The owner has taken our company to court and the case was dismissed once the CTT footage was viewed as it was clear that our company was not at fault in the incident and the owner was so quick to get rid of any evidence

    The owner is now being investigated by the police for threatening the airline

    We have shipped many brachycpehalic breeds overseas before and since that time without issue and Animal Travel has been in operation since 1984 and this is the first incident of this kind we have ever been involved in so our record speaks for itself
    November 3, 2011 1:31 AM

    Tim Stinson said…
    My name is Tim Stinson. In 2008, after having spent over a year living in England, I decided to fly my 2 year old French Bulldog, Washington, over to live with me. It had been a very hard year without him already, but he had been completing his mandatory quaranteen period in Sydney and was living on a a French Bulldog farm and being well looked after.

    I employed a company called Animal Travel (please see the blog directly above here, and please note their last comments), to handle the transportation of Washington to the UK in September.

    I was very aware of the risks of flying a French Bulldog to England, and due to this made sure that I got the best advice from my vet, Karen Hedburg (also breeder of Frenchies), and that I was using the best Animal Travel Company available to do this. I payed AT over $3500 to handle the travel of Washington and spoke to the Hammond’s the day before Washington’s flight. During this phone call and every one before I had there assurance that no dog in their care had ever suffered in travel and that the transportation companies they had employed, were of the best, and understood the specific needs of Washington.

    The next day I caught the train to Heathrow airport to pick my little man up. Unfortunately I was by myself as my partner was working, but my excitement about seeing Washington after so long easily sufficed. I tried to ring the airport as soon as his flight landed to make sure he got off safely. I was told that someone would call me back and soon i received a voicemail whilst on the station platform that said something had gone wrong during the flight.

    I immediately called back only to hear that Washington had died during the flight. Alone and in public I had to receive the worst news i had ever received and it will be a moment i will never forget.

    At the airport, later that day, I saw Washington to say goodbye and was told by the staff at the airport that this was simply an unlucky event, and that in the 6 years of working there they had only seen a 8 dogs die, all being French Bulldogs. They also suggested that an autopsy would be pointless and said they would handle the cremation and the cost involved.

    My father then spent the next few months trying to find some accountability from one of the companies that were involved in the travel. None of the airline or transportation companies would take accountability without proof of the medical state of Washington before and after the flight, proof I had assumed was attained by AT before Washington’s flight but could not find. AT spoke to my father (never once did they return my phone calls) the day this happened but any assistance, explanation or compensation from the company that not only assured us Washington was going to be fine, but that also employed obviously inept animal transportation companies to handle him, never came.

    I would like anyone reading this now to read the previous blog, and highlight the last few lines. AT know full well of Washington’s death in 2008 and have been seen here to not only tell everyone they didn’t, but worse, it is obvious now, that with full knowledge of Washington only 3 years ago, AT had given Kransky’s owners the same assurance they gave me.

    I can only be suggested that the Hammond’s and their company Animal Travel are a devious, money-hungry, untrustworthy and unethical couple that are providing clients with false information and security in order to take their money and decline any accountability when things go wrong.

    Washington was only 2 and the best thing I have ever owned or known and I miss him everyday still. This company disgusts me and I urge anybody who sees this blog to post it to your friends or anyone you know in the French Bulldog community. We need to make sure no more dogs fly under the care of these people, for the pain caused by them does not need to go any further.
    November 3, 2011 3:57 PM

  7. Mariette Skornicki says:

    I picked up a postcard in Sydney Park today and read your web page. I felt sick when I read it and made the immediate decision never to take my dog on a plane again! This is neglect at the highest level. Poor little Kransky. My heart goes out to you and I hope the perpetrators will get what they deserve. Absolutely atrocious. I’ve signed the petition and hope it will help to ensure this never happens again.

    Why can’t we take our well behaved four footers on board with us when we fly?
    In Europe and The United States, most airlines allow you to take your small dog with you.
    Mine certainly is far better behaved than a lot of the human babies who travel!!

  8. claire says:

    i am sitting here reading this story and balling my eyes out! i too have just recently lost my baby girl and i feel so so sorry for your loss. people fail to realize that animals are part of the family too, and they mean as much to the owners as much as a sibling, or child. singed and reposted on facebook!! i pray that justice be served and your family have peace!

  9. Peter says:

    After all this, and you have to pursue Animal Travel through the CTTT for a refund???? What sort of operation are they running? Their negligence killed your dog!!! I’m so sorry for your loss, and for the trauma this lovely dog went through.

  10. Mrsydney says:

    disgraceful – I would be taking legal action if this was my dog. This company are an absolute Joke.

  11. Kim says:

    This is such a heartbreaking story, I am so sad to hear and furious at Animal Travel.

  12. Malcolm Sinclair says:

    What a shabby affair.
    We now know which air line and animal transport company to keep away from.
    Tell your friends.

  13. Jezey says:

    I regularly travel interstate with my little hound ( 7kg PugxMaltese ) and i like all the previously mentioned dog lovers feel sick with worry every time i fly – worried something like this will happen . In Australia it seems we have a law for eveything – but still there are virtually now laws or regulations about who can own a dog and who can care for them on our behalf and its a saddening reality that the by product of tis is the loss of life as you have experienced first hand. I hope one day you get the answers your looking for and can let the memory of your little one rest in peace.

  14. Louise says:

    Your poor baby. I am about to fly my english bulldog to Perth and am worried sick.

    I share your sadness to ease your grief.

    R.I.P Kransky.

    • Karen says:

      I have just read your story about Kransky, what a devastating thing that has had happened to your lives. I have just brought my dog from Bali to the Netherlands and am now looking for an export company to handle the paper work etc for him to go from the Netherlands to Australia when I came across your story.Your story is making me investigate deeper into export agencies now, I am sorry for your loss and hope your happy memories of Kransky are still implanted deep in your heart. Regards Karen

    As someone who travels internationally with her dog (a 3 kilo Yorkshire terrier) I cannot fathom how there are not strict regulations ensuring the safety of our traveling furry family members. As responsible pet owners we comply with all the strict travel and quarantine requirements and yet are forced to hand our precious family members over to unregulated animal couriers! Examples of gross neglect and cruelty like this absolutely sicken me. As more and more people continue to travel with their pets we HAVE to do something about this!

  16. melissa says:

    I remember your dog from the park…so sad.
    I am very sad to read this. It must be devastating to you.

  17. Broke my heart. Poor sweet baby. U must have been so scared. And ure poor mum and dad. B strong. Ure baby knows u loved him

  18. Kate Williamson says:

    This story has moved me to tears. I’m sincerely sorry for your loss. Poor little guy!

    It’s disgraceful that companies like these make all these meaningless statements about ‘treating your pets as if they were our own’. There is rarely any evidence to back these statements – us pet owners just have to try and get the facts through all the fluff about ‘Very Important Pets’, and trust that they wouldn’t be doing the job if they didn’t genuinely love animals. There should be a code of practice and strict regulations – our pets are not meaningless parcels!

    I’ve signed the petition and shared it on Facebook. I wish you both the very best.

  19. Nola says:

    This is terrible, I have traveled with my pets and they always say she will be fine, as I walk away, I don’t feel right.

    They don’t care. I really think you should sue. Anyway am glad you have raised this on the internet, and hopefully people will see the name of the company and never risk using them.


    Tragic story – this happens time and time again and is never reported. Now is the time to do something! We have a dog that was flown from Tasmania to Sydney as a 12 week old puppy. When we collected her she and her cage were completely soaked – it have been left in the rain! This is nothing compared to what happened to Kransky but shows that the lack of care and supervision is evident throughout the airlines and animal transport companies

  21. Whilst I can’t comment on specifics of the case as I wasn’t involced, I would be exceptionally surprised that post mortem examination is strictly necessary. A breed prone to overheating / airway failure when stressed, which then is put in a hot environment and not supervised, then displays signs that a veterinary hospital view as consistent with terminal overheating… Common things occur commonly. If a foreign body became lodged, then how did it get there in this dog, and as it would have caused immediate signs, how were these not noted by staff immediately? This still would reflect a failure of care. Likewise, an animal doesn’t go from normal to terminal hyperthermia without some signs showing. Someone should have noticed.

    Furthermore, post-mortem examination performed a week later would have yielded little in the way of reliable results; postmortem performed on the spot by an untrained vet likewise. So I’m not sure how it would have added to this sad case’s outlook.

  22. Bec says:

    What a disgrace! I signed the petition and posted it on the pup-e-cups facebook page to get as many people as possible to also sign the petition. Lets hope your gorgeous little black dog did not die in vain and that something is done to protect other animals in transit in the future. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story

  23. Pingback: Justice for Franksy | Newsfeed – Pooch

  24. Nette Rosen says:

    This is horrible! If this was America we could charge the airline etc. Of animal cruelty and neglect! So good for ppl to put up these stories even tho it’s heart breaking to read. Hopefully they will get some laws against selling dogs and cats at pet stores too!

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