The Real Story Behind the Fat Dog on the Plane

The tweet from the airport gate about an unusual passenger preparing to board a plane at Los Angeles International pretty much said it all:

  • “holy [blank] I just saw the literal fattest dog” –Oct. 26 via @madeleinedoux

Fat Dog’s Story

Fattest dog in fact weighs 165 pounds and his name is Hank the Tank. See him in the photo at LAX – here – as a contingent of American Airlines employees greets  Hank before he heads to his seat in first class. First class? What?

Service Animals on Planes

Since when did American allow big dogs in airplane cabins? All airlines do, if the creatures in question are like Hank – a service animal. His owner, LA-based designer Kari Whitman has written about suffering from seizures which Hank detects. Hank has his own problems – he cannot walk – but together they do just fine. As Whitman tweeted, “He’s my savior & I his.”

Normally, most dogs traveling in planes must fit under seats but there are exceptions for service dogs (good thing, too, since we doubt Hank’s head would fit under a seat). U.S. Department of Transportation regulations state that if a service animal is too big, the passenger/owner may be offered “the option of purchasing a second seat.” And this was Whitman’s solution.

Did any one else traveling in first class that day object? We have heard no such reports nor were there any  complaints about Hank reclining his seat too far back or wrestling anyone for an armrest. Good boy!



Updated: October 29, 2015