The dog that died on an Air France-KLM jetliner bound for L.A. this week was a healthy, happy puppy heading for his new home ... according to the devastated family now demanding answers.
The family's attorney, Evan Oshan, tells TMZ ... the dog, a Central Asian Shepherd less than a year old named Bear, was recently purchased by the California family from Europe, and was en route to become their pet.
We're told Bear was chosen specifically because the breed is known for being strong and protective but gentle, and the family has 6 and 7-year-old children.
Oshan says the dog had no known health problems and was fine when he boarded the plane, and also doesn't have breathing issues like the French Bulldog that died on a United Airlines flight last year.
The family's now seeking more info from Air France, including surveillance footage of Bear and personnel files of anyone who handled him, incident reports connected to the flight, a flight manifest, cockpit recordings and KLM's protocol for stowing away animals.
In a letter to the airline, Oshan adds ... "We take the death of Bear very seriously and expect the protocol which you will follow will be consistent with the death of any passenger. Furthermore any attempt to veer from our requests will be viewed as obstruction of justice and dealt with as prescribed under the law."
We broke the story ... Bear was found dead Tuesday afternoon in L.A. in KLM's cargo hold after a long flight from Amsterdam. We're told the dog's body is still in the custody of the airline's investigator, and the family's efforts to have him returned to them have been ignored so far.
We're told the family wants the dog's necropsy done by an independent vet facility and to conduct its own investigation into the death.
We reached out to Air France ... no word back so far.