When Karen called me to tell me Jack had gone missing, I was walking my dogs on the beach. I was heartbroken and I felt totally helpless – it was almost 7pm, I was in Florida, and even if I could somehow manage to catch a flight to get up to JFK to look for him, it was doubtful they would let me look, since he had been lost in a restricted area. I started to walk the dogs home, trying to think of what I could do, and then it hit me – PATRICK.
Patrick is the dog who was starved and dumped down 21 flights of a garbage chute. He was found when one of the maintenance workers in the Newark, NJ building where he had “lived” saw the bag move when they were getting ready to run the compactor. Patrick was taken to the Associated Humane Societies and then to the Garden State Veterinary Specialists, where his life was ultimately saved. And, in the course of all this, two amazing people started a Facebook page – The Patrick Miracle – to send love and support to this very special little boy. That fb page garnered over 100,000 LIKES in just one weekend.
It was not my intention to start a fb page – but it was my intention to try to find someone who might have access to the baggage area of American Airlines. Some kind soul who could help us… and with over 100k followers, I knew that posting on Patrick’s page could give us a lead.
But why stop there?? I posted to Patrick, to Braveheart, to all the rescues I knew of here in Florida, to every pet-oriented page I was connected to or had ever heard of on fb. All in the hopes of finding one person with access who would be willing to help us. I stayed up posting on that first night until midnight. I checked back on the comments on all the posts the next morning. And I re-posted, and re-posted, and re-posted.
I got phone calls… I got private messages… and I got replies. But I still hadn’t found that one person I needed. (I was awfully naive about the culture of AA at that point… I’ve learned a lot since then!!)
And then, on Saturday, with Hurricane Irene on its way to NYC and JFK closing, I got a private message from a wonderful woman who told me she had posted a question about Jack on AA’s fb page. And people were responding to that! In droves!!! They were asking what AA was doing to find Jack… and they were not being shy about it!! They had deleted her first post, but then she re-posted, and others responded to her, and then they started posting themselves. It was the beginning of a movement… it seemed like AA couldn’t even begin to keep up to delete the posts.
And then I started the fb page. I had hoped we would get a couple hundred likes, but we passed the 1000 mark within a day!! And in the process met so many concerned and caring people… but unfortunately, none with the access we needed to really search for Jack. The numbers grew – to 15,000!!! – and so many people worked so hard to find the boy. The numbers forced AA to at least feign concern… it forced them to hire the pet detective and tracking dog… it forced them to take the time to at least respond on their fb page to inquiries. And ultimately, it forced them to shut down the discussion when, after two weeks, they just looked impotent.
But sadly, the growth of the page and the movement did not force AA to actually look for Jack. AA refused to take the idea seriously (posted by both pet psychics and knowledgeable cat owners) that he could have gotten into the ceiling. They failed to put a team – or at least a single person – in place to hunt for Jack in a consistent, caring and concerned manner. And because of the security issues that are part of the commercial airline industry at this point, no one could do that search but AA personnel.
Facebook is an amazing tool… it brings people together; it helps people to speak with a common voice; it demonstrates that the concerns of one person are not just theirs alone. Oh, and the comfort that has provided!!! Karen and I have never felt such love, compassion and caring in our lives. The plight of animals in cargo is now known… and, we pray, change will happen. SOON.
But ultimately, Jack’s time missing was a problem that fb could not solve… Jack WAS in the building, he WAS in a secure area, and he ONLY could have been found by secured personnel. I have received criticism from a variety of directions about what has been perceived as “lack of action” or even “lack of balls” on my part and Karen’s part in dealing with AA (and with Port Authority, the government entity that administers the entire airport). And fb opened us up to that criticism. That’s fine, of course… with every silver lining comes a cloud. But to the critics who said we should have shown our teeth… quite honestly, it just wasn’t that simple. This was uncharted territory for us — and it’s territory that has a big huge strong wall marked NATIONAL SECURITY all around it.
I began working with fb to find just one soul who could get into the spot we needed searched… instead, I found 26k amazing humans and found people who have brightened my life and enriched me beyond words. It was worth it – for me, for all the animals saved, and for the animals we will save in the future. But when AA did finally call Karen – 66 hours after Jack was first lost – the woman she spoke to told her “the last time this happened, it took about a month to starve the cat out.”
We couldn’t force them to do it any other way. And ultimately, Jack paid the price. Facebook just couldn’t change that.
November 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm
I work in PR, and deleting a post from your company FB page is a BIG no-no. I had no idea they did that. I’ll definitely be thinking twice before flying American.
November 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm
They banned people, too! I am one of many (and I`m proud of it)
November 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm
A little off-topic but along the same vein…
In June 2006, my area was hit with a major flood. The damage was incredible… In September of this year, it happened a second time. The same areas that were destroyed were hit again.
A local store, Petco, was in the area of the first flood. There were ample warnings that this flood would be as bad as 2006. People were evacuated a full day before the flooding happened.
Long story short, Petco’s management made the decision NOT to remove the animals from the store. As a result, over 100 animals died.
(If you want more info, you can google Johnson City, NY Petco tragedy. The news stories should come up, as well as Petco’s public statement).
Petco also deleted comments from their Facebook page and banned people who were calling for action against the store’s management, and for some kind of investigation. Finally, after enough furor was raised online and in the local media, Petco did make a sizable donation to the local animal shelters, and issued a public apology to the community. The store has not re-opened here, though their public stance was that they would re-open in another location.
People should be aware that large corporations quite often do try to hide things that might tarnish their reputations, but Facebook and other social media does give the public a voice. Things can change, if we are willing to put our spending where our ideals are.
Best of luck to Jack’s family. I hope American Airlines will realize that the flying public is not going to stand for their inept and careless behavior. Certainly national security is a major concern, but pets are not the same as luggage, and deserve better treatment than they currently receive.
Way to go, Jack’s family, for making people aware.
November 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm
Mary- I did not hear about this second flood and PETCO’s terrible mistake.- I lived in Binghamton and Endwell in the 50’s 60’s. (Dad was GE) Petco does so much. I am shocked that they did not react. I still remember the floods 5 years ago. How could they not react after at least two bad floods in the past five years. Very , very sad- I give them credit. At least they try to get strays and abandoned animals adopted, and not just sell animals from puppy and kitty mills.
December 11, 2011 at 12:49 am
Unfortuately, Jack’s Page does the same thing
November 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm
November 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm
I love you Jack, MB & Karen!
November 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm
Damn them. That says it all. Brings me to tears again every time I think of it.
November 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm
This makes me so angry. People who were not walking in your shoes have no right to say that YOU were not doing enough. Please try to erase those comments from your mind, and remember the love and support and wonderful people who raced to your side to help Jack. Complete strangers took you into their hearts and into their lives! People on the streets were talking about Jack the Cat! Around water coolers and in living rooms all over the place, people were talking about Jack and Karen. An amazing web of connections spread across the country (and around the world) for a lost kitty and his heartbroken owner. And all those rescued kitties who came to new homes because of the attention that Jack got. And the fact that every airline in the country is now super vigilant when transporting animals because they sure don’t want that kind of white-hot spotlight on them!! THAT’S what you should remember – really, that’s all that matters.
November 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm
Karen, it is the 1st time i can write directly to you. I still cry about Jack, and it makes me mad how AA treated his disappearance. I hurt just to look at him. Something must be done w/ AA as it has showed over + over total disrespect for animals. How they handle them once in the “baggage” area. Patrick is another example. How they regard a “disappearance”. etc etc. Now they deal with pet owners. I admire your courage. I feel so sorry for your pain and what Jack endured. It makes me so mad. I don’t know what else to say.
November 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm
Thank to Jack and Karen and all that were helping for the change you made with your sacrifice and you life, Jack and so many kitties were found homes. Jack is a gardian angel to all helpless animals and I hope you have a very thankful year Karen. Due to everyones effort I hope no one ever has to go through what you did Karen. God bless you. Mary Ann, Hawaii
November 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm
All it would have taken was one person on the inside. That is what people need to learn from this. BE THE ONE PERSON THAT CARES. I am so grateful that Karen and Jack had a voice in this through you. The story of Jack was a gift to all of us.
November 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm
Well said. My sadness over this situation continues. I can only hope there is a silver lining in here. But in the meantime, thoughts and prayers to you, Karen and your families. Holidays are the hardest times (not that ordinary days are any better). I can give thanks for people like FOJs, and know there is goodness out there.
November 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm
Im still heartbroken over Jacks outcome! i still cant believe how uncaring AA was and continued to be while Jack was missing. obviously AA doesnt care about our furbabies, and probably never will. it seems to me that because this had happened before they would have at the very least looked for him there, or heres an idea…put food in the ceiling for him! but quit simply they didnt care! but its hard to ignore a fb community like Jack had and still has! i just hope this NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN! Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do! Bless
November 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm
It’s impossible to say that any life – and especially Jack’s – is worth the sacrifice to make others aware of a bad situation. You were fighting against layers of stone cold bureaucracy and you did an amazing job moving things inches in the time you did. I know your goal was to move them miles.
I hope you can find some hope and solace in the fact that you changed minds around the world about the issue of transporting our beloved pets in the cargo hold. I’ve never done it and absolutely would never do it based upon what I learned from you and Jack. I guess that many others now feel that way.
You – and Facebook – did that.
Whether we as a collective voice can thus enact the change necessary to save future Jack’s remains to be seen. It will take more than a social networking platform to do it.
November 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm
MaryBeth- That was beautifully written and the tears flow again for poor Jack. Laura, Tom, Simone and all the ARK kitties and Dogs
November 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm
Facebook couldn’t save Jack, it’s true… but it did bring about change. People, working together, people who are willing to go beyond words on a screen and put their shoulders to the load, can make a difference, as evidenced by the cats who were homed through this whole situation, and the hopefully many more who will find new forever homes as FofJ’s are touched by Jack’s story, and the plights of the many thousands of homeless pets in shelters, and moved to open their hearts, homes and families to new additions.
I applaud your bravery in opening up your lives to this greater world, and making yourselves vulnerable in the pursuit of the greater good.
Wishing you and yours the best. May you enjoy a peaceful holiday.
November 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm
November 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm
Bittersweet and poignant discussion and so well put. The frustration and utter powerlessness of the situation was just so gut-wrenching. Very early on, I called AA’s Corp. Communications officer. He was snotty, abrupt and, when I strongly advised him to speak with his counterparts about taking the matter of Jack’s loss seriously, he asked me “what [I] was selling!” These robots are useless! The only thing they will understand is a swift and very hard kick in the wallet. I also spoke with the highest level of management at JFK about getting some of the searchers licensed/bonded (whatever) to be able to conduct a proper search for Jack (we had funds available). The response was that we could not do that unless we were employees! Why, with the many, many problems airlines have with animal transport (and at the risk of compromising a revenue stream) do these companies not have the properly trained staff to make safe transport possible? Jack, I miss you more than words can say…
November 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm
I was talking with some friends last night who work for Delta. They wanted me to fly to India with them. I told them I didn’t want to leave my four cats. They said, “Take them with you.” Well, that hit a major nerve. They said they had never heard of Jack the Cat, although in fact I had written them a letter about Jack. Are people just not paying attention? My vet had never heard of Jack the Cat either. I think we all have a story we need to keep sharing. I always thought Jack was in the ceiling. As someone else said, how secure are we at airports if they don’t know what is going on in the ceilings? I feel so sad about Jack, but still it’s good he was found and people tried to save him. I hope Team Jack will be a swell of support to animals in distress. I’m sorry I am sounding ticked off this morning, because I think we all learned the power of staying positive, praying, and never giving up. I hope your sorrow will start to heal. Times like this come to just about everyone. We always need to be there for each other.
November 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm
I started following this story being an animal lover myself and looked for updates daily. I had my children start to follow it because I felt like there was a deeper story that was being told. I would tell them daily, “Look what can be accomplished when people come together”. This one family and one precious animal has brought so many positives to such a negative situation. I was sick the entire day that all of us lost Jack, but realized that because of him and the efforts of you, and your family many cats are in a warm home today. I hope that this movement will continue and there will be changes all in the name of Jack. I love seing the updates and pictures of the cats that were adopted. Again thanks for the lesson that has been learned. It just takes one t make a difference.
November 23, 2011 at 4:45 pm
wow Mary Beth!!! I loved this but as usual flowing tears again. Looking forward to your next writing.
November 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm
Perfect, perfect, perfect posting. Loved each and everyone word!!! I will never forget Jack, nor, will I ever stop loving him from a distance. You and Karen never gave up fighting for him. You both fought to the end, no matter how difficult the war became for either one of you. Jack will remain forever in my heart. I intend to keep the fight up in Jack’s honor to ensure that Jack’s crossing over was not in vain. Love to you both
November 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm
Sorry forgot to add in my prior post, like Melody, I look forward to the next post!
November 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm
The operative word(s) here is that you were indeed in uncharted territory. Such an experience shows that the little folk should not be afraid the seriously kick the butts of corporations. It’s easy for them to brush us off (i.e. deleting the FB posts on the AA page), but harder for us to lose a beloved pet. The loss means nothing to them, but the world to us.
November 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm
Thank you so much for all this information, and for posting everyday about Jack. It is still unbelievable to me the lack of concern that AA had about Jack. I work for USAirway’s, and Security is extremely tight. Unfortunately, it has to be since the threat to the airlines by Al-Queda is still very real. The airlines is still their number one choice for attack. As a flight attendant, there are only a few places where we are allowed to excess the tarmac, and other area’s of the airport. It has to be approved by the FAA first. In saying all of this, I considered trying to help find Jack since I am airline, and have an ID that would allow me into secured area’s. However, being from a different airline, I am not sure AA would have allowed me into the secured area’s. But I wanted to try. I wasn’t sure how to begin to contact them at JFK to see if I could. I live in NC, and didn’t even know if I just flew up there and showed up to help that they would allow me to excess the secured area’s. It is a tricky thing. So I prayed everyday for Jack and Karen. I said the Saint Anthony prayer, I told other people about it. I tried my best from afar.
I wanted to help so much, because I think it takes a special cat person to find a lost cat, one that understands them, and one that has the knowledge of their habits and behaviors. I had wished so much that somehow AA would have gotten approval to escort Karen into these area’s because Jack wasn’t going to come out just for anyone. But if he had heard his Mom’s voice then it would have been easier, and much faster finding him of course. The whole thing is so sad. I can’t believe Karen had to check him into cargo to begin with. Unbelievable.
No crewmember would suggest to anyone to check their animals into cargo. I feel that the animals are taken care of by the ramp personnel. The cargo area’s are heated and cooled, and pressurized. However, the animals are exposed to loud noises, huge planes, the elements from the weather, and unfamiliar people, and then what if there is a delay or connection? It is just too hectic and disturbing to an animal that doesn’t understand what is going on. I don’t really like being on the tarmac either. If necessary to check an animal, the airlines should treat the animal like we do our unaccompanied children. Paperwork signed by owner and agent, and then the animal assigned to one person only to be transferred by heated/ac van to the aircraft. Then at the destination, an assigned agent would have paperwork in hand for the receiving of the animal, and transferred into the terminal, into a secured area. The passenger would then have to sign more paperwork, and show id.
I was so excited that Jack was found, and prayed for his recovery. My heart was broken when he died though. It was a huge roller coaster of emotions for everyone. I can’t imagine how devastated you and Karen were. I was so upset when he died, I was sad for day’s. It really bothered me, and I am still following Jack. He has touched so many lives, and touched mine so much. I have a big orange kitty named “Sam”. I would look at Sam and think of Jack. I still do. Please know that my heart, and thoughts are with Karen and you. Thank you so much for all the updates.
November 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm
Mary Beth, you are remarkable and it’s always a pleasure to read your posts. Very well written and with such grace and love. Of course it brings back all our memories of that precious Jack the Cat, for who I love so much. I sit here again crying as I write this because the pain is still so fresh. I don’t think, nor do I care, if it ever goes away. I will keep Jack the Cat close in my heart. I wish nothing but peace and happiness for you, Karen and the critters you both love and enjoy. I also hope that Karen is enjoying Northern California. I visit up there frequently in the city and in Marion … Bless you both and Happy Thanksgiving.
Love, Pam Stull
November 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm
I’m with Melody. The writing is honest and poignant, and my tears are flowing once more for Karen, whose Thanksgiving will be less than happy. I hope she finds some consolation in knowing that Jack is happy (with no memories of anything unhappy) and that Milly is delirously happy, for she has a new and supremely loving home for the holidays. God bless you, Mary Beth, for doing His work on Earth!
November 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm
Drives me crazy he could have been saved, but AA would not look in the ceiling!!!! I miss him so and my heart still aches for Jack, Karen, Mary Beth, and Millie. Our fight will continue to help change animals in cargo and uncaring, poorly trained people who handle the animals.
November 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm
I saw a push to get tracking devices for pets being transported by the airlines, though I am doubtful such devices would be of much use when looking for a cat somewhere within the infrastructure of a large building made mostly of iron and steal. As far as getting the airlines to actually look for an animal that won’t happen until there is a law forcing them to do so. There needs to be better carriers, caring handlers, specialized personnel, and massive penalties against the airlines for mishandling live cargo to include prison time for the person who is responsible for having lost the animal.
The best way to find an animal is to not loose it in the first place.
November 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm
God Bless You Mary Beth–those of us who followed Jack’s plight from day 1 (or thereabout) Know how Hard You & Karen Tried to get AA to DO SOMETHING!!! We All were Amazed at your Tenacity & Courage, even when it seemed all hope was lost–you continued to Drive forward. In the end it is AA’s Fault that Jack got lost and AA’s Fault that Jack did not Survive. It is AA’s Fault that You, Karen and 26,000 others are Still in Pain over the Loss of Jack the Cat. You & Karen did Everything You Could for that Little Boy and Anybody that finds Fault with Anything the 2 of you did are WRONG. I also Hope that You & Karen can find some Peace as Time goes on and we get into the Holiday Season. I Wish you Both Peace, Happiness and Love. Jack will be in my Heart forever too. >^..^<
November 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm
Jack is gone, but his spirit lives in every cat from the airport saved by adoption, and by people like us who are going to keep pressure on the airlines until changes are made in the way animals are handled and treated during transport.
I was so elated when he was found, and I desperately hoped that he would recover from his ordeal. The before and after photos of his condition were heartbreaking.
I will continue to follow Jack’s page and do what I can to assist when possible.
November 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm
As I read this, I am thinking of ways of pushing large organizations to respond. I wouldn’t have thought of this months ago, but in retrospect I would have instituted a sit-in at AA. I would have been willing to be arrested if it would have saved Jack. I suppose I am inspired by Occupy Wall Street actions. If one or more people were publicly seen to be protesting, to be seen to be arrested, to be seen to be in jail on behalf of this animal, AA might have mustered up more interest in finding the lost cat. How many people do you suppose would volunteer for a sit-in?
November 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm
What a great blog! My heart breaks every day for Jack and I sit here typing this through fresh tears for him! After this, I will never fly my fur baby anywhere I can’t be with him. I hold him more tightly every day and pray that no one will ever have to go through what Jack and Karen did ever again! The only good thing to come of Jack’s horrible ending is that there will be change for the better. AA is really fortunate that Karen hasn’t sued their butts off…..yet! I really hope she will pursue legal action….money and bad PR seem to be the only things they respond to. I will continue to check FB for new Jack news every day. It is our responsibilty to make things safer for our fur babies….they depend on us. It’s the least we can give in return for the unconditional love they give us every day.
November 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm
I followed Jack’s story closely on FB and am so sad that the ending turned out as it did. STILL, I am grateful that his last days were in a safe and warm place, and that he got to be with his beloved Karen when he passed. For that, we should all be grateful.
It is always wonderful to see people come together…people trying to affect change. Animals pretty much don’t get a fair shake most of the time in this world, and the awareness that came from Jack’s tragedy has opportunity to make a difference. We can change the fate of animals traveling…we can change the fate of the many homeless cats in need of adoption.
Jack is a hero in my opinion. He persevered in the most terrifying situation a cat can find themselves in. And the cats who were trapped and now in homes and getting care…they are only in that situation because of Jack and the outpouring of support out there.
Jack is a hero. And an angel. He will meet his buddies again someday……in a far better place than this earth. Thank you Jack for being the inspiration.
November 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm
Thank you for sharing this blog. And I will not fly AA ever not that I like flying. For them to treat a living animal like that is beyond words. I am so sorry this had to happen and I am sure there are going to be a lot of animal owners who will think twice about flying with their pets.
November 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm
Mary Beth, Again the second part is as well written as the first. You do have a way with words. Understood AA’s reaction, they & all air carriers have been getting away with this method of dismissing lost\dead pets for 50 years. In the memory of Jack we must force change. This must be accomplished before anyone can rest Forgetting about Jack? Not me!!!
November 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm
Mary Beth, your words are tough to read knowing the frustration and helplessness you felt…..and i know going through this was incredibly gut wrenching for you and Karen and the FoJs who searched. The system has to change…..Jack and now George (Edmonton kitty lost by Air Canada, found deceased) deserve every effort on our parts to see to it. Thank you for writing this blog.
November 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm
MB-thanks for revealing all of these details for those of us who grew to love Jack and became extended family with you and Karen. My own cat is afraid of little Jackie and hides; I can attest how impossible it is to find a cat who’s scared. Even with an owner’s voice, they will be found when they feel safe. In Jack’s case, there was nothing but fear surrounding him. Thanks, Mary Beth. Please send my very best to Karen.
November 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm
I am astounded that anyone would suggest that you and Karen did not do enough to find Jack and spread the word about his disappearance. You both did 110% and Jack could not have asked for a better Mama and Auntie. This is all AA’s fault. What is so heartbreaking for myself and probably legions of others is that I truly believe that if AA had done the right thing, Jack could have been found within a few days. Please never forget that his legacy will live on with all the homeless cats that have been saved because of him. And, hopefully, with new regulations in place to make airplane transport of pets much, much safer. Although I never met him, I fell in love with Jack and my heart has been broken by his story. I wish you, Karen and your furbabies and the rest of your family the best holiday season you can have under the circumstances. Allow yourselves whatever time you need to grieve. The FOJs are here for you with love and compassion.
November 24, 2011 at 12:37 am
I love you Jack, you are always in my heart. Love to you Mary Beth and to Karen. LAWS ARE GOING TO BE CHANGED!! With your determination Mary Beth, I know you will see to that. Take Care.
November 24, 2011 at 1:37 am
I just don’t understand how the airlines get away with it. I see that a kitty was found dead after Alaska airlines lost him. I’m not a lawyer but at what point does cruelty to an animal become the basis for a lawsuit, especially when I read that AA tries to “starve” out the missing. How inhumane is that. It’s not about the money. It’s about the principle. These airlines need to be held accountable and won’t until someone takes that step. I have cried more than I ever have for even my own because of the atrocity. Now I’m angry. What needs to happen to put the airlines on task. I will sign any petition, lobby any lobby, and do whatever it takes to prove a point. I am an AA gold member and I will walk away without a 2nd thought from an airline who has already failed. But it’s not just them. There is a flaw in how animals are handled. I would personally drive across a country with my animals rather than fly but based on the fact I have 4 cats, there is no other option for me. For those who need to fly, this should be a non-issue and they should get their animals to destination without these mishaps.
November 24, 2011 at 2:50 am
I have been following the story of Jack since it broke that he was missing. Having moved to Australia from NZ (12months ago) and my dog had to go into baggage….I did not realise then how mistakes like this can happen….I was terribly sad to read what happened to poor Jack and am disgusted at how animals are treated. You all did everything and more that you possibly could, there is only one person/company to blame for this whole tragedy…….and anyone who says otherwise has no idea what you have all been through.
November 24, 2011 at 3:00 am
Mary Beth you are a remarkable lady and you and Karen must never ever let any of those negative comments affect you in any way. You did everything above and beyond what many would have done, and as an avid animal lover and complete “cat lady” I love and respect you both! I am still broken hearted over Jack’s death – and the complete disregard for life of American Airlines. He was right in the ceiling all along and could very easily have been found if they would have just listened to advice or even just looked! Sadly he fell from the ceiling (they did not in any way “find” him – ) and by the time he fell through he was so badly dehydrated and badly injured. You have brought these facts to the attention of the world and now so many know and love Jack – and his legacy is saving this horror from occurring to other cats and their families!! I hope you continue a blog – I have found kindred souls in the Jack the Cat site and dont want it to be taken off. I have been in animal rescue – cats – since 1988 – doing spay, neuter and return, and finding homes for many many cats and kittens. I have five of my own and they were all rescued. As someone who knows what a bad time animals can have when they are lost or on their own, I thank you for drawing attention to the plight of Jack and your courage in sharing your sadness and grief . This article was very well written and I am following your FB page on those who you (and precious Jack) have saved.
November 24, 2011 at 6:48 am
Interesting – Perhaps the lesson is that FB will never be able to “force” a company to do anything, a la how this airline handled Jack, but rather, if you create a place where regular people can gather, offer assistance, help in whatever way they can, and you use FB as a tool of connectivity and awareness for those who actually WANT to help, then the goal of getting the big company to respond no longer matters – the grassroots efforts overtake them and do what’s necessary. Will this “shame” the company? Maybe, maybe not – but can you reach your goal? Easier than ever before. FB and other SM outlets can offer that level of assistance to help you reach said goal quicker than ever before. Imagine trying to find Jack 30 years ago when all you had was the US Postal Service? Good luck. At least this way, if the company STILL doesn’t “get it,” you can ignore that, and use social media to reach your goal without having to rely on the big airline that doesn’t care. Perhaps that’s the benefit of social media. Did it change the big company’s way of thinking? Probably not… But did it accomplish the goal anyway? Whether yes or no, perhaps we accept that this way of thinking is different, new, and the best we have as of now, vs. what we had 10, 20, 30 years ago. I’m an animal lover, all animals big and small. And I know that the humans who want to stand up for them have the best chance now as opposed to ever before. And I hope it’ll keep getting better. And if we find out that Facebook, despite all claims of how great it is, can’t do what we want/hope/need, then we’ll simply find another way. Perhaps the lesson to take away is to be thankful that we live in such an age where the technology exists that allows us to come up with new and better ideas, if we realize the ones we have are no longer beneficial.
Those are just my thoughts, and nothing else. I could just be a dreamer, but figure hey, what do I have to lose.
Best, and happy Thanksgiving,
November 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm
I’m so angry I could spit. What happened to Jack is morally wrong. On this day of Thanksgiving, please know that you have become part of our family along with Karen and Jack. How comforting to see all the people who have taken you into their hearts and assisted with all the animals located while searching for Jack. Although your time on this earth was short, Jack, you have left your mark and will continue to aid those who come after you. God bless.
November 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm
I give thanks that Jack got to be a part of Karen and Mary Beth’s life for several years. Although his life was nowhere near long enough, I am thankful that Jack had a wonderful home and was so loved. Wishing all FOJs a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.
November 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm
I don’t know what more could have been done to “push” AA. They took a corporate stance and chose not to respond to direct contact from thousands of people. If not for the dedicated local FoJs, there wouldn’t have been any searching for Jack at all.
And yes, tears flowing freely. Always will where this chapter of life is concerned.
November 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm
But when AA did finally call Karen – 66 hours after Jack was first lost – the woman she spoke to told her “the last time this happened, it took about a month to starve the cat out.”
well I think this quote sez it all — caring! NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
November 26, 2011 at 12:36 am
Well said by Barbara Stokes. Since a pet was frozen to death in cargo from Russia to US, I am not certain that the “complete” cargo area of all passenger planes are always heated and cooled. Was it one-time mechanical problem on that flight? I am not confident.
In the long run, I believe that whatever changes with regards to transport pets in a passenger plane, as well as setting up a proper procedure to search for a missing pet as soon as it occurs, will both require passing a law.
In the short term, if a passenger has no choice but transport a pet by air in cargo, I would recommend that secure each side of the carrier using nylon zip tie. Those carriers were dropped and bumped so much that at both Jack and George cases, the carrier was forced opened. Even those carriers with screws as George had, secure each side of the carrier using nylon zip tie to prevent it get knocked open.
Maybe, we can start a campaign “tie your carrier, save your pet” and at the same time to get donation to deliver a big container of nylon zip tie at each pet check-in area of each airline of all airports for both customers and airline workers to use.
In addition, for traveling more than a few hours, especially those cross ocean/continent, a climate controlled per carrier may be a very good idea for now. I did a quick search on the Petco website, it is not cheap but Petco does sell “Komfort Pets Climate Controlled Pet Carrier in Silver.”
These are my thoughts and hope that they give a baby push toward some actions that heart-broken of another family can be avoided.
November 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm
Was able to get more in-depth information on “Komfort Pets Climate Controlled Pet Carrier in Silver.” It needs to be plugged in. So for now, unfortunately, it won’t work for air travel.
November 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm
I was good, didn’t shed one tear until I read about AA saying it took a month to starve him out. How utterly sad and pathetic. The fact remains that they just didn’t care. They just didn’t care enough about a life.
November 26, 2011 at 5:50 pm
I really don’t have words to express my anger, frustration, and sadness for Jack and his family and what they suffered through. My cats and I used to be customer of American Airlines- no more. I too would be happy to help sign any petition, organize whatever needs to be done to help make sure what happened to Jack never happens again!
November 26, 2011 at 9:55 pm
From Natalie Simmon and Bonnie Wagner-Westbrook Nov 16 ‘s comment on ceiling and what happened to Jack and George, it made me suspect that airline personnel who handled pet transport and those who handled missing pets had little or no knowledge of pets.
As George case, according to CBCNEWS’ report
“Ground staff were able to put him back in the carrier the first time he got out, but then he escaped again.”
The saddest part was that ground staff did nothing to reinforce the carrier to prevent George to get out again. Simply use nylon zip tie or something equivalent to secure each side of the carrier may prevent the whole incidence for George.
A law needs to be passed that will require the airlines who shipped animals to have all their personnel who have any involvement with pet transport to be educated about animals, to understands them, and to have the knowledge of their habits and behaviors. Even just an one-hour online course or local shelter to come in to give them a briefing may make a difference. The later, it probably can be done immediately, if a local airport or the airline is receptive.
In addition, wondering whether any FOJ knows a board member of human society, board member of a company who produce pet carrier, pet food, or airline, or a pet loving celebrity who is willing to take on our cause?
November 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm
I hope we’ll be able to get some updated pictures of Barry and Milly. I’m so glad Milly has gotten a wonderful life. I do worry about how Barry is doing without his beloved brother, Jack.
November 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm
American Airlines filed for bankruptcy this morning.
December 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm
Hip hip hooray! hip hip hooray! There is justice sometimes in this world! Now the higher-ups at AA will have plenty of time to think about how they treated Jack’s loss from the time they screwed up and crashed his tote to him wandering around for how long right above their head! Idiots!
December 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm
I was devastated by the entire Jack story and followed it from Day One. Having been a former flight attendant, I was well aware of how animals are treated when they are checked as baggage. When I mentioned this on the page in the early days, I was admonished by many people (comments like “don’t you think she feels bad enough?” “Have you no heart?”. I do think there were useful suggestions on Jack’s Facebook Page that went unheeded,
that may have helped find him when there was still time. The whole thing is tragic and my heart is broken for Jack.
December 11, 2011 at 12:50 am
Unfortunately, Jack’s Page also deletes comments
December 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm
I am the admin for Jack’s page, and I am the only one who can delete comments. I have deleted a few things – such as the recurring “German cat punching day” guy – but I haven’t deleted very much else. Are you referring to something specific here? As far as specific suggestions that went unheeded, we contacted AA about the suggestions that were made on the page, but since we didn’t have access to the secure baggage areas, there wasn’t much else we could do. I appreciate your time and concern and will look forward to your reply!!! mb
December 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm
Early on, someone recommended using infrared cameras. This would have been an excellent way to find Jack in the ceiling. I don’t know if any steps were taken to follow up on that. Once the page was changed so that not everyone could not post on it, I think many excellent suggestions and resources may have been missed. I know you did
not want to discuss your legal options, but I think an animal rights attorney may have had better luck gaining access to the secure areas, videtapes, etc. I am not looking to blame anyone; I am also interested in lessons learned from this tragedy. In fact, another FOJ and I came up with a checklist of what to do if you lose your pet based on all the ideas we got from the Page. We will post it when it is finished.
December 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm
Thanks for replying, Christine!! Suggestions like the infrared camera and “bionic hearing” earphones were presented to AA – but because they would not allow anyone to do a thorough search of Terminal 8, we don’t actually know if those ideas were ever followed up on. I suspect they were not. It was completely Karen’s decision about pursuing legal counsel, and because the page was always an open forum, her decision to keep that as a private matter was very wise – one never knows who is watching or listening!! And finally, there has never been – nor will there ever be – a point where people are not allowed to make comments on Jack’s page!! It is a free community, and everyone’s input is appreciated!! I’ll look forward to seeing your list!!
December 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Christine — Just in case that you are not referring to your own posted comments.
The person, who originally posted comments, can delete his/her own comments, if he/she choose so. I sometimes did just that, if I felt that my comments have been taken taken or out-of-date.
December 11, 2011 at 9:00 pm
Mary Beth, a photo that “German cat punching day” guy posted, needs to be deleted from album. — My apology to post it here, but I cannot figure out a way to reach you otherwise.