Last week, crew members aboard a JetBlue flight quickly responded to a French bulldog in distress with an oxygen tank and breathing mask. Darcy, the three-year-old dog, was panting heavily on the flight from Orlando to Massachusetts, when her owner, Michele Burt, noticed her tongue had turned blue, a sign of hypoxemia, a condition resulting from a lack of oxygen in the blood.
Hypoxemia, low levels of oxygen in arterial blood, results in inadequate oxygen supply to vital organs and can require urgent veterinary attention. Deficiency in oxygen levels can lead to anemia of the organs, causing permanent and irreversible damage to the brain and heart. French bulldogs are often susceptible to hypoxemia due to their short snouts.
At first, the flight attendants brought over ice packs, yet Darcy continued to struggle with her breathing. Finally, Renaud Fenster, one of the flight attendants, recognized the hypoxemia and handed Burt an oxygen mask to place over the dog’s snout.
“As a French bulldog owner myself, I knew the dog was overheating and needed some ice,” Fenster told Good Morning America. “I brought the dog some ice, and that didn't do anything. So I called the captain, and I told him, ‘I think I need to use some oxygen,’ and he said, ‘Go ahead.’ And right then and there, placed the oxygen on the dog and the dog revived like nothing else.”
Thankfully, Burt has confirmed that Darcy has recovered and is doing well. “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. I believe [crew members] Renaud and Diane saved a life, some may reduce the value of the life because Darcy is a canine, I do not," Burt said.
“We all want to make sure everyone has a safe and comfortable fight, including those with four legs,” JetBlue told ABC News. “We’re thankful for our crew’s quick thinking and glad everyone involved was breathing easier when the plane landed in Worcester.”
It’s been a tough year for dogs on flights. In March, a French bulldog died on a United Airlines flight after a flight attendant ordered the dog’s owner to place him in the overhead bin, causing him to suffocate. Twenty-four animals died on flights last year, and 18 of those deaths were aboard United Airlines flights.