In its third pet-related mishap in a single week, a United Airlines flight was rerouted after a dog was put on the wrong plane.
On Thursday, a United Airlines flight departing from New Jersey's Newark airport and destined for Akron, Ohio was forced to be rerouted mid-flight after the airline realized that a dog bound for Ohio was accidentally loaded onto a plane bound for St. Louis, Today reports. The flight rerouted to the dog's destination, delaying those onboard, because it was the "fastest route to reunite the dog with his family."
"United Express flight 3996 from Newark to St. Louis diverted to Akron to drop off a pet that had been loaded onto this flight mistakenly. The pet has been safely delivered to its owner. We provided compensation to all customers on board for the diversion," United Airlines spokesperson Natalie Noonan said in a statement provided to PEOPLE.
The mishap is the third strike in a week for United.
On March 12, a 10-month-old French bulldog puppy named Kokito died on a United flight from Houston, Texas to New York after a flight attendant insisted that the owner of the dog put the carrier, with the puppy inside of it, in the overhead bin. When the flight landed, the family discovered that Kokito had died.
Just days later, a 10-year-old German shepherd named Irgo bound for Wichita, Kansas found himself in Japan after United Airlines placed the dog on the wrong flight. The canine, who was forced to go on the 16-hour long journey without food, water, or medication for an ear infection, was examined by a vet in Japan and later flown by private charter to Kansas.
According to an analysis of Department of Transportation (DOT) filings, United Airlines reports more pet deaths than its peers.
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.