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United faces criminal probe into dog's death in overhead cabin

16 March 2018, 01:15 | Melanie Burgess

United faces criminal probe into dog's death in overhead cabin

Kansas family worried for pet dog that United mistakenly flew to Japan

The Harris County, Texas D.A. has assigned the case to the animal cruelty division.

A statement from prosecutors said they won't decide if criminal charges are warranted until the investigation is completed.

United Airlines says the flight attendant who ordered the passenger to put her pet carrier in the overhead bin didn't know there was a puppy inside.

According to witnesses, a flight attendant forced a family to put the dog into the overhead bin, saying the pet did not properly fit underneath the airplane seat.

United Airlines apologized Tuesday after a dog died on a flight during which it was stored in a passenger's overhead compartment.

Senator John Kennedy wrote a letter Wednesday to the president of United Airlines demanding an explanation to the number of animal deaths aboard the airlines' flights. A passenger on the flight posted on Facebook that a flight attendant "insisted" the dog be placed in the overhead compartment.

"The flight attendant came and said you can't put him there because he'll block other passengers".

"'It's a dog, it's a dog.' He can't breathe up there.' And she said, 'It doesn't matter, it still goes up there ..."

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The Kansas breeder said her French bulldog Tilley will get some extra hugs tonight.

"We have learned that the customer did tell the flight attendant that there was a dog in the carrier". Gremminger said the owner was preoccupied by her infant during the flight and did not check on the pet, which fell eerily silent after barking during takeoff and as the plane ascended to its cruising altitude.

For its part, United Airlines has said it accepts complete responsibility for what happened, calling it a "tragic accident".

More pets have died on United Airlines flights than any other USA airline for three years straight. Thirteen other pets on United flights were injured.

In 2017, 24 animals died on flights; 18 of them were on United flights.

And some are just head-scratchers - like Atlanta businessman and frequent flyer Eric Goldmann who did an impromptu study of emotional-support animals, only to learn that of the 142 flights he'd taken previous year by the end of October there were support pets on about 40 percent of the planes. "It's disgusting." The 11-year-old girl's French bulldog was fine in a carrier under the seat on the United Airlines flight from NY to Houston. Of 15 reported injuries, 13 occurred with United.

A United spokesperson said in a statement to KCTV5 News: "An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations".

"The overwhelming majority of the incidents were attributed to animals not being acclimated to its crate or the animal having a pre-existing condition we weren't aware of", Hobart said. United says the tags will help flight attendants better identify pets on flights.

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