I never actually thought about what happens when airlines lose people’s pets. Airlines lose bags all the time, and people travel with pets all the time. The odds make it inevitable.
I missed the 2006 story of Vivi the award-winning whippet, who disappeared from her crate at New York’s JFK airport after competing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show two years ago. According to this NY Times article, her disappearance prompted an extensive, frenzied and fruitless search (including 100 local volunteers) in the states of New York and New Jersey. Delta Air Lines paid her owners a flat fee of $2,800 as it would for a lost piece of luggage of comparable size. Aside from her emotional value, Vivi the Champion was worth about $20,000.
Her owners have not lost all hope. Recently, they have been talking to animal psychics who have revealed that Vivi is alive and well, and living in Brooklyn.