United Airlines animal deaths
In March, a French bulldog died on a United Airlines flight after the flight attendant forced the owner to put the pet in the overhead compartment (Image via Huffington Post)

United Airlines Has the Highest Rate of Animal Deaths of All U.S. Airlines

After the death of a bulldog on a United flight in March, PETA and other animal rights activists have rallied against the airline.

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United Airlines animal deaths

After the death of a bulldog on a United flight in March, PETA and other animal rights activists have rallied against the airline.

United Airlines is under fire once again after a recent incident of an animal death that occurred in March. In addition, reports of various United Airlines animal deaths surfaced earlier this year. In the most recent incident, a flight attendant on Flight 1284, which traveled from Houston to New York, reportedly left a passenger’s dog in the overhead bin for over three hours.

Unfortunately, the dog on Flight 1284 passed away as a result of the flight attendant leaving him in the overhead bin for the extended period of time. From the incident, numerous discoveries of other United Airlines animal deaths came to the surface.

The owners of the deceased dog, a 10-month-old French bulldog, were grief-stricken about the news. While United Airlines issued a public apology to the owners, others were upset with the incident as well.

Members of PETA, which is an organization that fights against animal cruelty, lashed out at the flight attendant of the United Airlines aircraft, saying that the decision to leave the dog inside the overhead bin for the duration of the flight was animal abuse. PETA additionally added that United should fire the flight attendant over their actions because it was indeed a prime example of animal cruelty.

According to an article in The Washington Post, 24 out of 506,994 animals that flew on commercial airline flights in the United States died during the flight. Of those animals, 18 were flying United Airlines, which made up for 75 percent of animal deaths in comparison to other commercial aircraft.

Although the company felt remorseful about the tragic event, they said the main reason why there are so many United Airlines animal deaths, in general, is due to pre-existing health conditions of the animals. Furthermore, United Airlines allows for more high-risk dogs to travel on their aircraft than other airlines, thus, making the business more prone to higher numbers of animal deaths.

Although the company apologized for the death of the French bulldog, they claimed that the other United Airlines animal deaths that have occurred were caused by pre-existing health conditions (Image via EUR)

Many airlines do not accept certain breeds, such as pugs, onto their aircraft because they are short-nosed, which means they can suffer from more breathing difficulties than other dogs. The term for the specific types of dogs is called brachyleptic and includes pugs, boxers, bulldogs, Boston terriers, mastiffs, pekingese, shih tzus and more.

Studies from a Chicago Tribune article revealed that the majority of the United Airlines animal deaths were indeed due to the airline accepting higher-risk breeds. In fact, 40 percent of the dog deaths were a result of the brachycephalic breeds having breathing difficulties.

With more incidents of dog-related deaths making their way into to the public, United Airlines may want to follow in the footsteps of the competing airlines and rethink allowing the more vulnerable types of dogs onto their aircraft.

The more high-risk breeds United Airlines allows on their aircraft could potentially lead to unwanted issues and bad publicity for the company, especially because the majority of people are unaware of the fact that United Airlines accepts breeds that are more susceptible to accidental casualties, which makes up for a large portion of the animal-related deaths on their aircraft.

Writer Profile

Emilie Romero

University of Nevada, Reno

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