A dog has died on a plane after a flight attendant instructed its owner to place the animal’s carrier in an overhead bin, according to reports.
The tragic incident occurred on a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York on March 12. The owner was traveling with two small children and their 10-month-old puppy — a french bulldog — that was placed in a TSA-approved pet carrier.
— MaggieGremminger (@MaggieGrem) March 13, 2018
In a Facebook post, fellow passenger June Lara documented what happened during and after the flight. Lara was sitting behind the family with the dog and watched the incident unfold in front of him.
“They INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow,” he wrote in his post on March 13.
“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,” he added.
United Airlines said in a statement that it has assumed full responsibility for the dog’s death, reported ABC News.
“This was a tragic accident that should have never occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” United said in a statement to the news station.
“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.”
Brayan Castano tells BuzzFeed News his puppy Kokito is the dog that died on the United flight yesterday. The pup was traveling with his wife Catalina and their two kids back home to NYC from a visit with him in Houston, where he is currently working. pic.twitter.com/5WimXkuf5N
— Stephanie McNeal (@stephemcneal) March 13, 2018
According to the airline’s policy, “a pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times.”
United spokesperson Charles Hobart told CBS that the flight attendant told the owner to place the pet carrier in the overhead bin because the bag was partly obstructing the aisle. He added that he was not clear why the carrier was not just placed under a seat.
He said the family has been refunded the price of their tickets as well as the price to bring a pet on board — which is usually $200, reported the news station.
The cause of the dog’s death is still unknown. United said they are willing to pay for a necropsy.
According to the news station, the flight attendant is also distraught and said the language barrier could have added to the confusion.
In 2017, 18 pets died out of the 138,178 pets that were transported on United Airlines, according to the Department of Transportation.