Data Shows United Has More Pet Deaths Than Other Airlines

United Airlines has a track record of reporting dead and injured animals.

According to an analysis of Department of Transportation (DOT) filings reviewed by Yahoo Finance, United Airlines reports more pet deaths than its peers. United also transports more animals than other airlines.

According to the filings, since 2012, there have been 153 animal deaths on airlines in the U.S. Of those deaths, United accounted for 66 of them, or 43%. In 2017 alone, 506,994 animals were transported by airlines, with a rate of 0.79 incidents per 10,000 animals, for a total of 24 animals dead, 15 injured, and one lost. During that year, 138,178 animals flew with United, with an incident rate of 2.24 per 10,000 animals.

“We are very liberal in our reporting in terms of what we consider an injury,” Charlie Hobart, a spokesperson for United, said. “When we see a dog that has a little toenail that might be chipped, or there’s a drop or two of blood, we consider that an injury.”

The findings come just days after after a 10-month-old French bulldog puppy named Kokito died while traveling from Houston, Texas to New York on a United Airlines flight.

Cataline Robledo and her 11-year-old daughter and 2-month-old son brought their family dog onto a flight from Houston to New York in a pet carrier. Robledo initially stored the carrier under the seat in front of her but was later told by a flight attendant to move it, with Kokito inside, to the overhead bin. Robledo resisted the direction but ultimately followed the flight attendant's instruction. When the flight landed, the family discovered that Kokito had died.

The puppy’s death has prompted swift backlash, with the Department of Transportation launching a federal investigation. The airline has since announced that it will be changing its pet policy.

Days later, Irgo, a 10-year-old German Shepherd bound for Wichita, Kansas found himself in Japan after United Airlines placed the dog on the wrong flight. The dog’s owner, Kara Swindle, arrived at a United Airlines cargo facility after her plane landed safely in Kansas to discover that her dog was not there. Hours later, she learned that he had been flown to Japan, a 16-hour journey without food, water, or medicine to treat an ear infection he was suffering from.

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Once located, Irgo was examined by a vet in Japan and is set to be flown by private charter from Narita, Japan to Wichita, Kansas on Thursday.

The Humane Society’s website states that air travel always poses risks for animals, particularly for those “with "pushed in" faces (the medical term is ‘brachycephalic’), such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.”