Dog Dies in Overhead Bin on United Airlines Flight

Pets flying with their owners have dominated the bad news cycle, it seems. 

There was the mauling on a Delta flight back in June that was one of the first stories to expose the loophole that allows Emotional Support Animals the same access as service animals. Since then there have been countless other animal stories on planes. The woman who flushed her hamster down the toilet because it wasn't allowed on a flight shocked pet lovers everywhere. Then there was the "emotional support peacock" that wasn't allowed on a United flight. All these stories prompted Delta to update its entire policy on what kinds of animals are allowed onboard.

There have only been a few animal deaths on airplanes that we've reported on, including the Flemish Giant Rabbit and two different dogs which all died in cargo. Until now.

Another pet death on a plan has come across our desks, and this one is tragic.

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Maggie Gremminger was a passenger on recent United flight 1284 from Houston to New York's La Guardia airport. She essentially broke the story Monday night when she tweeted a photo of a dead dog, saying that a flight attendant on the three-hour flight was to blame. 

According to Maggie, and other passengers on the flight, the flight attendant insisted that the dog carrier, with the dog inside, must be stowed in the overhead compartment. Even though the dog was barking throughout the flight, it wasn't allowed in the main cabin.

Another fellow passenger, June Lara, recounted the story on Facebook.

The Facebook post reads:

Today, I boarded my first United Airlines flight.

On my way, I saw a Frenchie that looked identical to my own precious Winston. He was with his family - a young girl, no older than 8, her toddler sibling and their mother. He was meant to grow, learn, cry, play with those young children and be their furry friend. He was meant to live a long life filling that family's days with that special joy that only a dog can bring.

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.

The Humane Society of the U.S. says air travel can be risky for pets and especially dangerous for brachycephalic breeds — such as pugs or bulldogs, whose short nasal passages make them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. This little guy fought hard for his life, filling our flight with his cries until he finally ran out of breath. United Airlines does not care about the safety of their furry travelers. This poor family paid $125 for their pet to be murdered in front of them. There is no excuse for the pain this family is suffering.

Today, I boarded my last United Airlines flight.

R.I.P Papacito

A United spokesperson confirmed the horrific story by telling The Points Guy:

"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."

The problem is, the small dog was indeed allowed in the main cabin on the owner's lap or under the seat in front of the passenger, as long as it was contained in a pet carrier and out of the airplane aisle. United's pet policy is as follows:

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. 

What do you think of this horrendous story? Tell us in the comments below. 

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