Various passengers were quick to post what happened on social media, with pictures showing the deceased puppy still in his “TSA-approved carrier.” June Lara, a passenger on the flight, wrote a Facebook post detailing the incident which quickly went viral:
Today, I boarded my first United Airlines flight.
On my way, I saw a Frenchie that looked identical to my own precious Winston. He was with his family – a young girl, no older than 8, her toddler sibling and their mother. He was meant to grow, learn, cry, play with those young children and be their furry friend. He was meant to live a long life filling that family’s days with that special joy that only a dog can bring.
I sat behind the family of three and thought myself lucky – who doesn’t when they get to sit near a puppy? However, the flight attendants of flight UA1284 felt that the innocent animal was better off crammed inside the overhead container without air and water. They INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow. They assured the safety of the family’s pet so wearily, the mother agreed.
There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10 month old puppy. I cried with them three minutes later as she sobbed over his lifeless body. My heart broke with theirs as I realized he was gone.
The Humane Society of the U.S. says air travel can be risky for pets and especially dangerous for brachycephalic breeds — such as pugs or bulldogs, whose short nasal passages make them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. This little guy fought hard for his life, filling our flight with his cries until he finally ran out of breath. United Airlines does not care about the safety of their furry travelers. This poor family paid $125 for their pet to be murdered in front of them. There is no excuse for the pain this family is suffering.
Today, I boarded my last United Airlines flight.
You can read the rest of the post here, but be warned the deceased dog is pictured.
More passengers have come forward to help raise awareness of this practice from United, who came under fire last year for “forcibly removing” a doctor from his seat, giving him a concussion and bloodying him because the flight was overbooked.
United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart apologized, and took full responsibility for the puppy’s death:
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Additionally, United said they would be refunding the family’s tickets and paying for the dog’s necropsy. Still, last year Reddit and other forums were packed full of users recalling their worst United Airlines experiences, and it seems like the list just got longer.