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Sunday
Mar172013

Dog Mistakenly Boarded on Flight to Ireland Instead of Arizona

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A dog meant to meet his family in Phoenix, Ariz., ended up on a plane to Ireland after he was mistakenly put on the wrong flight from a New Jersey airport.

Edith Lombardo-Albach of Staten Island, N.Y., told ABCNews.com that her six-year-old English Springer Spaniel named Hendrix was scheduled to arrive in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona around 9:45 p.m. Thursday evening on a flight out of Liberty Newark International Airport on United Airlines.

"They marked everything Phoenix, and put the tags on Phoenix," she said.

But seven minutes before the flight was supposed to land, she received a phone call from the United Airlines informing her that Hendrix would not be arriving in Arizona that evening.

"Originally, I thought the dog had died and I started screaming," she said.

But an airline representative told Lombardo-Albach that her dog was put on the wrong flight, and was en route to Shannon, Ireland, instead of Phoenix.

"I almost fainted," she said. "My husband and my daughter were already at the airport waiting for the dog."

Lombardo-Albach's family is in the process of moving from New York to Arizona, she said. While her daughter, Meredith Grant, had left for Phoenix on an earlier flight on U.S. Airways on Thursday, she could not take Hendrix down with her because the airline does not accept any animals as cargo.

Lombardo-Albach said United told her that when Hendrix arrived in Ireland, "they were going to have someone clean the dog, feed the dog, walk the dog, and then they were going to get the dog back on the plane and send him to Newark."

"The dog had already gone seven hours to Ireland, and now the dog has a two-hour layover and then a seven-hour flight to Newark," she said. "I was insane."

Hendrix flew back to New Jersey on Friday morning, and Lombardo-Albach was there waiting for him when he got off the plane around 11 a.m. She stayed with him at the airport until 5 p.m., when he boarded his flight for Phoenix.

"They boarded him the last possible minute they could," she said. "I stayed and watched them physically put the dog on the plane."

But she said it was a struggle to get Hendrix back in his crate to travel to Arizona on Friday.

"He was fighting me to put him into the crate. That's just not like him," she said.

Lombardo-Albach said United Airlines offered her a free refund for the dog's flight, but was disappointed that the airline was not more compassionate.

"This was a major failure on United's part," she said. "He's a member of my family and they nearly left him."

United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said in a statement that the airline regretted that Hendrix was boarded on the wrong aircraft.

"We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the situation and will take steps to prevent this from happening again," she said. "Hendrix's experience is not typical of the service we provide to the more than 100,000 pets who travel with us every year."

Lombardo-Albach just wants the airline to make things right.

"I can't believe that somebody would be so stupid," she said. "And if this person doesn't lose their job, I mean, there are going to be problems."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio