On Monday a dog died in the overhead bin of a United flight, after a flight attendant instructed the owner to place the dog there. On Tuesday a dog was flown to Japan instead of Kansas. And we wonder why United has three times as many incidents with animals as all other US airlines combined…
In this latest incident, a family was moving from Oregon to Wichita, and they checked their 10 year old german shepherd, Irgo, in the cargo hold.
Irgo was supposed to fly in the cargo hold of a different United flight that was to arrive at 4:30PM. However, when they arrived at Kansas City Airport on a United flight on Tuesday, they were given a great dane that wasn’t their dog.
Due to a mix-up, United sent the great dane to Kansas, and the german shepherd to Japan. Officials in Japan were able to locate Irgo, and after seeing a veterinarian he will be flown back to the US, though we don’t yet know when. Because the dog was on an international flight, it may be quarantined in Japan for up to two weeks.
United told the passengers that they didn’t know how the mistake happened, because the kennels were apparently similar (which makes no sense, since hopefully they use a slightly higher tech method than just the visuals of a kennel when deciding where to send animals). Here’s what the passenger had to say, per KCTV5:
“I just want to know where my dog is,” Swindle said. “The fact that we don’t have any idea is the most frustrating part. He could be in Kansas City and we have no idea because the paperwork is all messed up. They have our paperwork here saying that this is the correct dog, but we know it’s not. It’s just horrible.”
“At this point, all I can do is be hopeful that my dog is going to be okay and return safely,” she said. “I don’t know what else to do at this point. I can’t cry anymore. I’ve cried too much.”
The airline has issued the following statement regarding the incident:
“An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations. We have notified our customers that their pets have arrived safely and will arrange to return the pets to them as soon as possible. We apologize for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened.”
This is just so unacceptable. It’s bad enough when bags get sent to the wrong place, but the duty of care for a living creature is so much higher. It can’t be that this ever happens, let alone that this happens as often as it does on United.
As I explained earlier, this isn’t an isolated incident:
- In 2017, United transported 138,178 animals and reported 18 deaths, 13 injuries, and 31 total incidents
- All other airlines combined transported 368,816 animals, and reported six deaths, two injuries, and nine total incidents
It’s pretty telling when an airline that transports 27% of animals also has 75% of animal deaths, 87% of animal injuries, and 78% of animal incidents.
United: it’s time you suspend your animal transport program if you can’t transport animals safely. There’s zero excuse for the incompetence here.