According to Kara Swindle, the family booked a flight with United Airlines from Portland to Kansas City, but Irgo had to fly on a different plane because at 80 pounds there wasn't enough space for him in their plane's cargo bay. The pooch's flight was expected to touch down in Kansas City before the rest of the Swindles were scheduled to arrive.
However, when Swindle and the rest of the clan landed and headed over to pick up Irgo, they found a Great Dane sitting in the airline kennel that was marked with Irgo's paperwork. Shocked at the discovery, they reached out to United Airlines and were later told there had been a mix-up and that the Great Dane and Irgo had switched flight plans — meaning that Irgo was on an international flight to the Land of Rising Sun.
"We went to cargo to pick him up where the kennels are and out pops a Great Dane when we call his name… we burst into tears seeing this is not my dog," Swindle told the Wichita Eagle. "They have no idea how it happened, is what [United Airlines] is telling us right now."
Though the Swindles were originally told that Irgo might end up being quarantined in Japan for two weeks because he was on an international flight, airline officials later informed the family that he would be flying back home after he saw a veterinarian, KCTV reported.
Irgo is expected to land at the Wichita Eisenhower National Airport Wednesday.
— Emily Welsh KMBC (@EmilyKMBC) March 14, 2018
"It's been a nightmare," Kara Swindle told the publication. "It's a long flight, especially for an older dog… I can't imagine what he's thinking, we're all stressed right now."
"This is not the first time something like this has happened… but I'm hoping this will be the last, if we have anything to do with it," she added.
Swindle confirmed to the Wichita Eagle that she plans to pursue legal action against United Airlines after doing "something special" for Irgo.
In response to the mix-up, United Airlines released a statement admitting to the incident and offering their apologies.
"An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations," the statement reads. "We have notified our customers that their pets have arrived safely and will arrange to return the pets to them as soon as possible. We apologize for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened."
This incident comes two days after a French Bulldog named Kokito died on a three-hour United Airlines flight after a flight attendant ordered the family to place their pet in the plane's overhead compartment.
Warning: This photo may be upsetting for some readers.
United Airlines later described Kokito's death as a "tragic incident that should never have occurred." The airline has since launched an investigation into the matter. The US Department of Transportation also announced Wednesday that it was looking into the incident, along with the US Department of Agriculture, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act and investigates alleged animal mistreatment.