Dog stranded in Germany after airline deems him unfit to fly because of 'panicked reaction'

A dog is stuck in Germany after an airline deemed him unfit to fly because of an anxiety episode.

Dawn and John MacEnulty, originally from St. Louis, were moving back to the United States after spending a year in Germany because of a death in the family, NBC 5 Chicago reports.

The MacEnulty’s were booked a Friday flight with United Airlines to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. However, their two pets – a cat, Molly, and 9-year-old beagle and Australian shepherd mix, Joey – were not confirmed for the flight.

A representative for United told Fox News the airline has suspended new reservations for PetSafe travel and are only honoring previously made reservations.


According to United, an airline representative put the MacEnulty family in touch with a brokerage agency called Gradlyn Petshipping to handle sending their two animals to the United States. Gradlyn arranged a separate flight for the pets aboard Lufthansa Airlines for $1,700.

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Lufthansa said the dog was injuring himself, prompting crews to remove him from the flight.  (iStock)

The MacEnulty’s boarded their flight and landed safely in Chicago. Upon landing, the family was only reunited with Molly.

“We got a text that they had to pull [Joey] off the plane and we did not know much more than that,” said Dawn MacEnulty to NBC 5.

The MacEnulty’s said they had cleared their animals for flight by two veterinarians in Germany. But a bleeding scratch on Joey’s nose, among other precautionary reasons, caused Lufthansa to remove him from the flight.

In a statement to Fox News, Christina Semmel, a representative for Lufthansa Airlines, said the dog had a “panicked reaction,” which prompted the removal.

“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.”

John MacEnulty said to NBC 5, “We were expecting him with a few scratches on his face ’cause that is what he does in the kennel.”

"In actuality, Joey was causing himself great harm and we certainly don’t want a situation where this would continue while in-flight."

- Christina Semmel, Lufthansa airlines representative

The family said Joey has separation anxiety and had been prescribed anti-anxiety medication, Xanax, for their initial flight to Germany. According to NBC 5, the MacEnulty’s were not able to find a German veterinarian to prescribe the medication.


Lufthansa said the injuries were more than “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. We actually really do want to bring Joey home, and have wanted to do this from the start, but it needs to be in a safe way,” Semmel said.

Semmel said Joey is currently in a dog hotel in Germany with a trainer where he is able to run around and move freely while he waits to be reunited with his family.

“Under German law, veterinarians are advised not give medication to animals while inflight as it affects their circulation. Also, once it wears off, we run into the same problem again,” she said.

Dog traveling by airplane. Box with live animals at the airport.

Joey (not pictured) is at a dog hotel in Germany with a trainer while he waits to be reunited with his family.  (iStock)

The MacEnulty’s say they have been frustrated, claiming no one they were dealing with “really wanted to take responsibility.”

United said it offered to fly the family back to Germany to pick up their dog, free of charge. Lufthansa has also said it will fly Joey back, for free, once a vet clears him.

According to Lufthansa, a member of the family is flying back to Germany on a Lufthansa flight to pick Joey up.

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.