Edgar Montaño, Minister of Public Works, calls a press conference this Monday in the department of La Paz. Broadcast live on the state channel, he affirms the following: “Tito is still alive and could be in the houses near the airport.” The authority continues and says that he has instructed the firefighters, together with the personnel of four state institutions, to carry out a search to find his whereabouts. “We have arranged food and also water in all sectors so that he can eat, the kitten liked tuna. We hope that the kitten Tito will appear ”, concludes Montaño.
Tito is three years old, weighs between six and seven kilos, has a distinctive spot on his face that responds to his name and is white with gray tones. The disappearance of this pet, owned by Andrea Iturre, is the case that has aroused indignation and discomfort in some sectors of the Bolivian population for just over a week. Tito’s owner denounced, through a Facebook post on December 10, that during the preparation of a local flight from Tarija to Santa Cruz, departments located in the southeastern region of the country, the state airline Boliviana de Aviación (BoA) he lost his cat.
🔵 #ANF The Minister of Public Works, Edgar Montaño, reported that the addresses of the ATT, DGAC, BoA and NAABOL joined the search for the cat Tito that the state airline lost at the airport in #Tarija. “We are hopeful that Tito will show up,” he said. pic.twitter.com/9CND11Ud8b
— Fides News Agency (@noticiasfides) December 12, 2022
“I requested that they let me take my pet in the cabin and they denied me, alleging that the kennel [caja transportadora para mascotas] that I had was not authorized and so they pressured me to go to the winery”, he explains in the publication that went viral, being shared more than 19,000 times.
In his account, Iturre details that the flight was delayed for more than two hours, for which he begged to be allowed to be with Tito in the cabin because it was too long to wait and he was sedated. The BoA officials, according to Iturre, only referred to telling him that the plane would leave in 20 minutes and that he should be patient. “Upon arriving in Santa Cruz, waiting for the luggage, I almost died when I received my cat’s house empty and without any reference. After a few minutes, only one BoA agent showed up to tell me that they lost her in Tarija. They did not even deign to tell me before flying and I found out in Santa Cruz, many hours later, ”he continues in the publication.
Iturre denounces that he had to act immediately on his own. He returned to Tarija in search of information to find the whereabouts of his cat, he spent more than 24 hours trying to find solutions, during which time he received no response or call from the company. The airline limited itself to publishing a statement through its social networks, on December 10, specifying that “in relation to the case of Tito, the pet that came out of its special container, Boliviana de Aviación maintains its search active through a delegation whose task is to find Tito and return him to his family,” according to a fragment of the letter.
“Although it is our BoA flag line, I have still instructed the ATT [Autoridad de Regulación y Fiscalización de Telecomunicaciones y Transportes] make an investigation. The investigation has to give responsibility,” said the head of the Public Works portfolio at a press conference.
For its part, at the request of the Minister of Public Works, the Telecommunications and Transport Regulation and Supervision Authority (ATT) requested reports from the airline on the circumstances and procedures adopted by BoA to transport the pet. The executive director of the ATT, Néstor Ríos, warned that the company could be fined more than 10,000 dollars, a figure that for users on social networks is “ridiculous”, for the incalculable loss for the owner.
For a group of the population, BoA’s loss of Tito was the last straw in a series of years of poor care by the airline. BoA was created in 2007 —through a supreme decree—, but it was not until 2009 when it began its operations after receiving the air operator certificate. Since then, the state company, over the years, has gained a monopoly on national routes in the Andean country. According to different specialists, the company’s participation in the national market ranges between 79 and 82%. The ATT announced that in the first half of 2022, BoA carried out 11,470 flights and registered 1,209 complaints, ranging from delays, technical failures, as well as lost and stolen luggage.
The owner returned to Bolivia from Ireland to do the paperwork to take Tito since, as she announced, he suffers from anxiety and his cat has always been his companion. “I came back to take it away, it’s all for me. My plan was to go to Santa Cruz where I planned to have him chipped and certified as a therapy cat. I’m going to stay until I find my kitten, I’m going to go as a last resort. I am not moving from here without him or with a clear explanation of what happened to him, ”she said in an interview near the Tarija airport.
Iturre does not lose hope of finding him and continues looking for his partner along the airfield runway, waiting for some information or sign of his whereabouts. Firefighters, ATT personnel, the General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics and Air Navigation and Bolivian Airports have the order to accompany the work to try to solve the loss of this pet. Finding Tito is a state matter.