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JetBlue attendants who put oxygen mask on bulldog's face saved her life, owners say

Michele and Steven Burt of Massachusetts credit two JetBlue flight attendants with saving Darby, their French bulldog, when the dog began panting heavily and struggling for oxygen on a flight last week. The attendants put an oxygen mask on Darby, who recovered.
Michele and Steven Burt of Massachusetts credit two JetBlue flight attendants with saving Darby, their French bulldog, when the dog began panting heavily and struggling for oxygen on a flight last week. The attendants put an oxygen mask on Darby, who recovered. Facebook

When Michele Burt saw that Darcy's tongue was blue, she knew immediately that the French bulldog was in trouble - on a plane.

Burt and her husband, Steven, of Westminster, Mass., were traveling Thursday with three dogs on a JetBlue flight from Florida to Massachusetts when Darcy began struggling, according to MassLive.com.

Darcy was in her carrier under a seat when Burt noticed that the dog was pushing her head against the mesh opening. Burt described what happened next in a thank-you letter to JetBlue that she and her husband shared with media outlets, including ABC News, and was posted by a friend on Facebook.

The couple credit two flight attendants - one of them a French bulldog owner himself - with saving their dog's life.

"In a time when the news cycle is so negative and divisive it helps to be reminded that good people are doing good things on a daily basis even if it is in small ways or big ways like yesterday when I believe the Attendants on Jetblue flight 330 probably saved my French Bulldog Darcy's life," Burt wrote in her letter.

She took Darcy out of the carrier when she saw that the dog's tongue had turned blue. She told JetBlue that she recognized that as a sign of hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen.

She held Darcy in her lap, trying to calm her. But Darcy kept panting frantically, Michele wrote in her letter.

At first, a flight attendant told her - politely, Burt wrote - that the dog had to stay in her carrier under the seat.

But Burt told the attendant the dog was struggling, and that's when attendants Renaud Fenster and Diane Asher came to help, she told the airline.

The attendants brought bags of ice to try and cool the dog down, but Darcy wouldn't stop panting and continued to struggle.

"Renaud, who explained that he also had a French Bulldog 'Penelope' brought a small oxygen tank with a mask attached and offered it saying, 'Maybe this will help,'" Burt wrote, according to MassLive.

"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 Renaud and Diane saved a life, some may reduce the value of the life because Darcy is a canine, I do not."

It was certainly a much happier outcome than an incident involving another French bulldog, a puppy, that died in March in a United passenger cabin after a flight attendant mistakenly told its owner to place the carrier in an overhead bin.

More than 500,000 pets flew as cargo on U.S. flights in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and 24 died in the air - 18 of them on United flights.

Fenster told "Good Morning America" he'd never seen anything like Darcy's case in 15 years working for an airline.

He said he saw Darcy on Burt's lap "and I believe the dog passed out," he told GMA.

"I decided that we needed to consider using oxygen to support the animal. 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."

In a statement to ABC 7 in New York and other media outlets, JetBlue said they were happy their crew members went "above and beyond" to help the dog and that Burt's thank-you letter would be forwarded to higher-ups so the attendants can be recognized for their kindness.

"We all want to make sure everyone has a safe and comfortable fight, including those with four legs," said JetBlue's statement. "We're thankful for our crew's quick thinking and glad everyone involved was breathing easier when the plane landed in Worcester."

Burt told MassLive that Darcy is doing well, but before she flies again, her vet will sign off on the travel.

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