Founders Fund Exec Tweets Tale of Bulldog Diarrhea on Miami-Bound Flight

Photo by Joe Cheng
From long delays to impatient passengers elbowing their way onto a plane, modern-day air travel can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Maybe a baby with a loaded diaper cries in your ear throughout the flight, or the person seated in front of you disregards your existence by reclining their seat until it practically touches your nose. Or maybe a rude passenger who smells like a distillery refuses to comply with a flight attendant's modest requests and causes a scene.

Think you had it rough?

Think again.

On the evening of September 11, Mike Solana, a vice president at Founders Fund, Peter Thiel's venture-capital outfit, inked a harrowing new chapter in the annals of midflight despair when he tweeted about a Miami-bound flight during which his boyfriend had a close encounter with a bulldog suffering from a vicious bout of diarrhea.

According to Solana, it all began when the woman in the aisle seat in his row thought the dog sitting by the window was cute. She held the dog in her lap — "at which point he exploded."

In other words, the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan.

"[E]veryone freaked out, the dog owner began sobbing, and the dog escaped," recounted Solana, a former nonfiction editor at Penguin. "[N]ow, covered in poo, it is running around the plane. [P]eople are lifting up their legs and screaming."
The diarrhea-covered dog was eventually corralled, and flight attendants used a biohazard kit to wipe down the seats, Solana wrote. They covered some of the poop-stained seats with blankets and offered wine "to the most afflicted up front."

Solana, who owns a condo in Midtown Miami, added, "[I]n the end, seats were lysol’d and scrubbed, 75 dollars in airline points were rewarded to direct hits, the lights were dimmed, and a very tired and ashamed lil pup watched tv for the rest of the trip."

Three days later, Solana's tweet had notched a hefty 271,000 likes and several thousand comments. The thread sparked an online discussion as to whether dogs should be allowed on planes at all. Some commenters questioned why this particular dog was not in a crate, while other users shared their own experiences flying next to dogs.

And New Times spent two days attempting to verify the story for the edification of you, dear reader.

Solana did not respond to a Twitter-delivered request that he identify the airline and flight number. Nor did he return a phone call requesting he elaborate for the sake of all mankind.

Undeterred, New Times contacted Southwest, Delta, JetBlue, United Airlines, and American Airlines and inquired whether an incident involving a diarrheic bulldog occurred on any of their flights to Miami.

American and United said no such event had transpired on their planes. We can only assume the remaining airlines are still investigating.

While Solana's yarn may sound absurd, Rob Ortiz, who runs the South Florida-based aircraft-detailing company Clean Takeoff, tells New Times in-flight incidents involving excrement aren't unusual. After hearing Solana's version of events, Ortiz says the flight attendants followed standard cleaning protocols.

"It has happened in the past — not exactly the dog running around with the diarrhea," Ortiz imparts. "But a dog or cat may have an accident on a seat or on the carpet."

As for the "running around" part, in 2020, airlines placed restrictions on so-called emotional support animals traveling in the aircraft cabin after passengers took to flying with massive dogs and unusual creatures like squirrels and peacocks.

Generally speaking, only trained service dogs are permitted to fly with their owners outside of a carrier nowadays. Depending on the flight, ordinary household pets may be allowed in the flight cabin provided they remain in a carrier, though passengers don't always follow those rules.

Clean Takeoff's Ortiz notes that animals aren't the only ones to have accidents on planes. He says his company has had to clean planes after turbulence caused frightened passengers to suddenly urinate.

Some bulldog breeds have a predisposition to severe colon inflammation, though there's no word on what caused the alleged inflight incident.

If a bulldog with diarrhea did indeed soil Solana's boyfriend, it may have been due to irritable bowel or something the animal ate. Or maybe the dog was just a nervous flier. It happens to the best of us.
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Naomi Feinstein is a fellow at Miami New Times. She spent the last year in New York City getting her master’s degree at the Columbia School of Journalism. She is also a proud alum of the University of Miami.
Contact: Naomi Feinstein