Congress Getting Involved After Puppy Dies on United Airlines Flight
Puppie Died After Being Placed in Overhead Bin
The death of a puppy that was placed in the overhead bin of a United Airlines flight has sparked such a wave of outrage that even Congress is getting involved in the matter.
In an incredibly heartbreaking incident, a 10-month-old French bulldog died after a flight attendant ordered its owner -- a mother traveling with her two young children on a flight from Houston to New York -- to put a dog carrying case, with the puppy inside, in the overhead bin.
“The dog, left without air in what is essentially a small, closed coffin, barks for help, gets none, and slowly suffocates to death,” Kitty Block, the acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, wrote of the incident in the society’s blog.
Witness Posted Details of the Puppy's Death on Facebook
A passenger on the flight, who witnessed the entire matter, posted especially distressful details on Facebook after the plane landed and the puppy was found dead.
“There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel,” June Lara wrote in her March 12 posting. “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.”
United has apologized for the incident and says the flight attendant did not know there was a dog in the carrier -- though the family has disputed that claim.
Congressman Demands Answers From United
But United’s explanation and apology isn’t satisfying two members of Congress, who are not only demanding answers from United, but have introduced a bill that would prohibit pets from being placed in overhead cabins.
“I write to demand an immediate explanation for the number of animals who have died recently in United Airlines’ care,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La), wrote in a March 14 letter to the president of United Airlines, J. Scott Kirby.
Proposed Law Would Ban Placing Dogs in Overhead Bins
The next day Kennedy and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) filed a bill called the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act, or WOOFF. The measure would prohibit airlines from placing animals in overhead baggage compartments.
“Pets are members of the family. Unfortunately, for our pets, they are at the mercy of human beings showing some common sense,” Kennedy said in a statement after introducing the bill. “United Airlines is promising to put special tags on pet carriers to help flight attendants in the future. I’d rather make it the law that animals aren’t to be treated like an old piece of luggage.”
Kennedy, referencing U.S. Department of Transportation figures, says 18 of the 24 animals who died in major U.S. airlines’ care last year were being flown by United. Another 13 animals in United’s care suffered injuries. By comparison, Delta and American each reported two animal deaths.
Masto also released a statement, blasting what she termed “human neglect and carelessness” in the deaths of the animals.
“Too many animals have died as a result of human neglect and carelessness,” said Masto said. “The Welfare of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act is designed to protect the well-being of our beloved family members—our pets – when traveling.”
Humane Society Applauds Proposed Law
Meanwhile, the Humane Society applauded the proposed legislation, with the society’s Block saying she hopes the death of the puppy on the United Flight would serve as a “Katrina” moment.
"We salute Sens. John Kennedy and Catherine Cortez Masto for introducing bipartisan legislation to help ensure that no pet is ever put at risk or killed in transit on our nation’s airlines,” Block said in a statement.
“Pets are members of our families and should be treated with kindness and respect at all times. We hope and expect that this tragedy will mark a ‘Katrina moment’ for the airline industry, one in which every stakeholder involved recognizes the deep responsibility that agencies, institutions and corporations at all levels have to help us keep our companion animals safe from harm.”
Besides the death of the puppy, there were two other incidents last week involving United Airlines and pets. The day after the puppy died on the Houston to New York flight, a 10-year-old German Shepherd was mistakenly flown from Oregon to Japan, instead of its intended destination of Wichita, Kansas.
Then on Thursday, a United flight from Newark to St. Louis was diverted to Akron,Ohio because a dog that was supposed to be flown to Akron had been mistakenly boarded on the St. Louis flight.
Both those dogs were unharmed.
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