This week has seen twin incidents involving dogs on United Airlines flights — first when a puppy died in an overhead storage bin (after a flight attendant’s directive) and then when a dog ended up in Japan rather than Kansas — that have left many shaking their heads. In response to the first, much more egregious, atrocity, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) quickly responded on Twitter. He indicated his intent to file a bill to ban airlines from relegating animals to overhead bins. “Violators will face significant fines,” he wrote. “Pets are family.”
The Louisiana Republican, who has two dogs of his own, further described the animal’s death as “disgraceful” while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill. He also demanded that the airline do something in addition to their apology:
“They have some explaining to do. I mean there are days up here on Capitol Hill I love dogs better than people. This isn’t something to joke about. What happened to this pet was disgraceful. I can’t imagine how the pet’s owner feels. But we need to get to the bottom of it. And I know we have many important things to do — but this is important too.”
Kennedy has followed through with introducing legislation, and he has tweet-announced the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act (WOOFF), which will ban an animal from ever being stored in such a way again.
Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. Airlines have been under fire for a number of similar tragedies in recent years, and a new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation finds that 18 (out of a total of 24) animals that have died on airlines have met their demise on United flights. Further, 13 out of 15 animal injuries have occurred on the same airline.