Another day, another pet travel quandary. The latest incident involves the MacEnulty family, originally from St. Louis, who were moving back to the United States after a year spent living in Germany. According to NBC 5 News Chicago, the move was prompted by the death of John MacEnulty’s mother.
The family booked travel via United Airlines, which they then flew to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Friday, but their dog Joey and cat Molly were never confirmed for the flight due to that airlines’ current suspension of new reservations for its PetSafe travel program, a rep for United told PEOPLE. Both the family and United confirm that the airline put the MacEnultys in contact with a brokerage agency called Gradlyn Petshipping, which helped arrange for a substitute flight for the 9-year-old beagle and Australian shepherd mix and the feline aboard Lufthansa Airlines.
Although the MacEnultys’ cat Molly arrived safely in Chicago, the family tells NBC 5 News Chicago they received a text message saying Joey was deemed unfit for flight.
“We got a text that they had to pull him off the plane and we did not know much more than that,” said Dawn MacEnulty.
Although the pet had been cleared for flight by two veterinarians previously, Lufthansa said a bleeding scratch on the dog’s nose, among other precautionary reasons, prevented his flight that day.
Meanwhile, the MacEnultys say they’re aware their dog has separation anxiety issues, noting a past veterinarian had given Joey the anxiety-reducing drug Xanax for their initial flight to Germany a year ago. They could not find a German vet to provide a prescription for his return trip, though.
“We were expecting him with a few scratches on his face ’cause that is what he does in the kennel,” John MacEnulty told NBC 5 News Chicago. Lufthansa, however, tells PEOPLE, “It is not just a mere scratch on his nose.”
Christina Semmel, a Lufthansa representative, provided PEOPLE with the following statement regarding Joey:
“At Lufthansa Group the safety, health and security of our passengers is the utmost of importance and a first priority. The same standards hold true for any animal that we transport through Lufthansa Cargo. The MacEnulty family dog, Joey, was scheduled to fly home on March 28, 2018 (today), but upon careful examination, our experts agreed that the animal is still unable to fly due to his panicked reaction upon being placed in the transport kennel. Our customer relations team is in communication with the family and our professionals must make sure that Joey is first calm and fit to fly before he is admitted onboard. It is not just a mere scratch on his nose. In actuality, Joey was causing himself great harm and we certainly don’t want a situation where this would continue while in-flight.”
Joey remains in Germany for the time being, which frustrates the MacEnultys who claim they’ve been given the runaround by the two airlines, stating “It’s been frustrating because no one really wanted to take responsibility.” Dawn MacEnulty also tells NBCDFW.com that the family paid $1,700 for both their pets’ transport.
Still, Lufthansa tells PEOPLE “We want nothing more than to bring Joey home!” And not only did United offer to fly the customers back to Germany to pick up their pet, but Lufthansa has stated it will fly Joey to Chicago as soon as he is deemed healthy by a vet — for no additional charge.
As of Wednesday morning, Lufthansa updated PEOPLE, saying the MacEnultys’ pet “is currently in a dog hotel with a trainer and he is able to run around and move freely. Under German law, veterinarians are advised [to] not give medication to animals while in-flight as it affects their circulation. Also, once it wears off, we run into the same problem again.”
The rep says the airline was just advised that “the owner is flying to Germany to pick Joey up. Hopefully their reunion will calm Joey down.”