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United Airlines has announced it is suspending its ‘animal-shipping cargo program’ while it conducts a review.
The review follows the recent death of a dog who was forced to travel in the overhead bin by a flight attendant, and another dog who was shipped to Japan instead of Kansas.
The suspension, which is immediate, will run until May 1 and only applies to animals who are meant to travel in cargo. Companion animals are still able to travel in aircraft cabins.
A blog post by United Airlines says: “We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care.
“We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets.
“To achieve this outcome, we will partner with independent experts in pet safety, comfort and travel.”
According to reports, 18 companion animals died aboard United Airlines flights in 2017 – way above the four that died on Delta and American Airlines combined.
‘Dogs aren’t baggage’
Speaking about animal travel, animal rights charity PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, said: “If our dogs can’t fly with us in the cabin where we can see and reassure them, the only safe choices are to drive with them to our destination or leave them at home with a trusted friend or sitting service.
“Dogs aren’t baggage, and the confusion, noise, extreme temperatures, and improper pressurization of a cargo hold can be terrifying and even deadly for them.
“Even careful airlines like Delta can’t guarantee a safe and stress-free flight for a dog.
“In just the last few weeks, one dog died in an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight and two others were misplaced by that airline, which demonstrates exactly why PETA has spent years calling on all airlines to join JetBlue and Southwest in banning live animals from the cargo holds of passenger planes.”