Escaped Horse on Plane Forces Flight To Turn Back to JFK Airport

Within hours of taking off, a plane was forced to reroute and return to its departure airport after a horse got loose in the cargo hold.

A Boeing 747 took off from JFK in New York City on Nov. 9, and once it reached 31,000 feet, its crew requested a change in the flight plan as one of the 15 horses in the cargo hold had gotten loose, reported.

The plane was operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic, according to the . PEOPLE reached out to Air Atlanta Icelandic for comment on the incident, but did not receive an immediate response.

In a recording of the crew’s call to Air Traffic Control shared on , one of the pilots said they did not have a problem “flying wise,” but they could not get the horse “secured” after it had gotten loose.

According to John Cuticelli, the chairman of ARK, the company that handles all animal export and quarantine operations at JFK, turbulence struck and the horse “jumped and managed to get its two front legs over the (front) barrier” of its holding stall “and then got jammed,” per CNN. 

The horse was then suspended over the barrier, with its front legs on one side and its hind legs still inside its stall.

Upon landing, the animal was met with an emergency response team, but the other 14 horses had to be taken out in order to “get the equipment in to get the horse out,” Cuticelli said.

“We dispersed veterinary care, animal handlers, medical equipment, horse slings, a horse ambulance, everything necessary to accommodate that horse,” he told the outlet.

Once the horse was extricated, the injuries it had sustained were too severe and it was euthanized, he said.

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The plane took off again toward Liège, Belgium, its original destination, shortly after the horse was attended to.

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