If you have a dog, or just love dogs, this story may be hard to read, because it’s all about a cruel, idiotic decision that resulted in the death of a beloved family dog. The incident happened on United flight 1284 from Houston to LaGuardia, where a flight attendant insisted that a TSA-approved pet carrier containing a dog be placed in the overhead baggage bin for the flight. By the end of the flight, the dog was found dead.
The story was reported on travel blog The Points Guy. According to that, the dog was a 10-month-old French Bulldog traveling with his family—a mom, an eight-year-old girl, and an infant daughter. According to a Facebook post from a passenger behind the family with the dog, this is how the incident transpired:
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.
Here’s a screenshot of the now-unavailable post, but, be warned, it does show the dog after he expired:
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Other passengers on the flight have posted about the incident, and those tweets and posts have been generating a huge amount of sadness and outrage.
Not only was the decision cruel and idiotic, it’s against United’s policy as well. We reached out to United, who provided us with this statement:
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.
Yeah, no shit. Pets should not be stuck in the overhead bin.
A puppy shut up in a dark, noisy place like that is going to, very understandably, freak the fuck out. Panic will set in, heart rates and body heat will increase, all exacerbated by minimal airflow. It’s hardly shocking the puppy died up there, because, for fuck’s sake, that’s a baggage compartment.
I’m not sure why this rule was so hard to grasp for the flight attendant that insisted on this, but it’s not even the sort of thing you’d think you’d have to immortalize in an official rule, because what kind of monster is going to shove a puppy in there?
While many of us who own dogs believe we’d have pitched a fit at the very suggestion that the dog be shut up in an overhead compartment, I feel strongly that you can’t blame the owners here. If flight attendants—who are the authority figures in this situation—were insisting that the dog be placed in the bin, the owners were in a position where they would have believed assurances that the dog would be fine. It’s not their fault, at all.
This is tragic, and demonstrates a staggering lack of sense and humanity on the part of the flight attendant or attendants involved. Let’s hope something this stupid and heartbreaking does not get repeated.