United Airlines: Stop Killing Your Customers' Animal Companions

United Airlines: Stop Killing Your Customers' Animal Companions

This alert is no longer active, but here for reference. Animals still need your help.

"I'm so scared. I can't breathe! Why doesn't anyone hear me?" Is this what terrified young Kokito was thinking as he slowly suffocated to death while trapped in an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight? We can't know exactly what this horrified puppy was thinking, but we can act now to make sure no animal ever suffers in agony the way Kokito did on a flight again.

Kokito, a 10-month-old French bulldog, was placed in an overhead bin by a United flight attendant. According to first-hand accounts, the attendant was told there was a dog inside, yet she insisted the airline-approved carrier be placed in an unventilated space where his horrible suffering was ensured and his fate was sealed. For at least two hours of the three-and-one-half-hour flight from Houston to New York, he could be heard barking. Then, silence.

United has stated it is not its policy to place animals in overhead bins. So, why did the flight attendant violate policy? And where were other flight attendants when this was happening? Our animal companions are part of the family and should be treated as such.

Kokito's guardian Catalina Robledo stated tearfully in an interview to Telemundo, "I paid to be taken to my side, not to be suffocated. I told him, but since I'm going to put up the dog where the suitcases are going, he's going to suffocate, he does not have to go there." Robledo explained how she was carrying a baby on her lap and "there was turbulence, it was dark and the stewardesses were not seen anywhere. They were sitting with their belts on."

Sealing a family member in an overhead bin is ludicrous, yet it happened, and no-one intervened. Passengers should never have to fight a flight attendant to protect their family members.

United had the most animal-related deaths in 2017 — 18 out of a total of 24 recorded deaths of animals by a major U.S. carrier.

Along with United's poor record of keeping animals alive on flights, it also has a serious problem with transporting animals who fly in cargo. In the days following Kokito's death, United twice sent dogs in the wrong direction. On March 14, United mistakenly switched two kennels in Denver and thus sent a Great Dane to Kansas and a German Shepherd to Japan instead of the other way around. The day after that, it again sent dogs in the wrong direction, and a flight from Newark to St. Louis had to be diverted to correct United's mistake.

When you travel with your animal companion, always make sure you know what rights you both have and make sure to have a copy of the airline's guidelines in writing as you board your flight. Do not assume the airline is going to protect your animal companion. You may need to fight for their survival.

What YOU Can Do:

This alert is no longer active, but here for reference. Animals still need your help.

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