Dog Dies on United Flight, Family Blames Airline

August 9, 2017 3:47 pm Last Updated: August 9, 2017 3:47 pm

A dog died in a cargo hold of a United Airlines plane on Aug. 8, and the owners blame the company.

Lulu, a 5-year-old King Charles spaniel, was checked by a vet and in good health before he was handed over to United for a flight from Houston to San Francisco, the family stated, according to ABC News.

But the flight was delayed and waited on the tarmac for two hours. That, the family said, was likely why Lulu died.

Lulu was more at risk, since snub-nosed breeds are prone to overheating, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Still, the airline advertises a temperature-controlled environment for pets during air travel.

United responded with a statement:

“We are so sorry to learn of Lulu’s passing and have reached out to our customer to offer our condolences and assistance. We are deeply upset any time an animal suffers an injury while traveling with us and especially grieved in the rare instance that one passes away. We are conducting a thorough review of this incident.”

There were over 16,000 signatures on a petition calling for United to improve its pet safety measures to ensure pets are not endangered during delays, when the plane waits on tarmac and the air conditioning may still be off.

Petition calling on United Airlines to improve conditions for pets held in cargo holds during delays. (screenshot/thepetitionsite.com)
Petition calling on United Airlines to improve conditions for pets held in cargo holds during delays. (screenshot/thepetitionsite.com)

United has lately had a poor record on animal safety. Since the beginning of 2016, 34 animals have died during air transport, 16 of them traveled with United, according to Transportation Department data.

In July, a group of businessmen sued United over a giant rabbit that died during a flight from London to Chicago in April. They planned to display the 20-pound bunny at Iowa State Fair. Instead, Simon was found dead upon arrival.

For air travel with pets, AVMA recommends taking the animal to the passenger cabin (if small enough). Its crate needs to fit under the seat and airlines may have other restrictions too, so it’s better to sort it out during booking.

If the pet needs to travel in the cargo area, AVMA recommends getting the animal used to staying in a crate, avoiding thick blankets and fluffy items in the crate and traveling in extreme temperatures, minimizing layovers, keeping the pet from getting overweight, and consulting with a veterinarian before travel.