A family has been left completely heartbroken, confused and angry after their beloved pet dog died after a United flight attendant forced it to travel in the overhead bin.
The shocking story has caused outrage and been shared far and wide on social media, after passenger Maggie Gremminger posted about the tragedy online.
Posting her account on Facebook, Maggie said the flight attendant forced the woman, who was travelling with her two children and pet, to place the dog and the dog carrier into the overhead compartment.
The dog was just 10 months old and was travelling in a TSA-approved dog carrier, which would generally mean it can be placed under the seat in front, as per the airlines policy, according to reports.
But the woman eventually did as she was asked and by the time the plane arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, the dog was dead.
“I am heartbroken right now. I didn’t question the flight attendant but I could have,” Maggie shared in an emotional post.
“I heard the dog barking a little and we didn’t know it was barking a cry for help.”
She also shared the story on Twitter, posting a photo of the woman completely distraught after disembarking the flight.
“I want to help this woman and her daughter,” she wrote.
Since the story was shared, people all around the world have shared their outrage and utter shock across social media.
“I am in tears reading this. What they did was illegal. Dogs are allowed to remain in their carriers under the seat,” one person wrote on Facebook.
“I am so sorry you had to witness this and I can't even imagine the pain of the pet owner,” another said.
“This post absolutely breaks my heart. I cannot imagine the pain that family is feeling after losing their fur baby; or the pain you are feeling having witnessed such a tragic and traumatic event,” another added.
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People on Twitter were quick to condemn the airline for letting this happen, calling for a boycott of the company.
“Give me and the rest of the internet a reason not to boycott you for killing this dog,” one person posted.
United Airlines soon issued a statement on the incident which occurred on United flight 1284, shared online by Maggie.
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” the statement read.
“We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”
In a subsequent statement, United spokesman Charles Hobart said the flight attendant asked for the dog to be moved because the bag was partly obstructing the aisle, according to The Australian.
He also said the airline has since refunded the owner the cost of the tickets and the cost of bringing the pet on board.
Maggie went on to share that she was wracked with guilt for not speaking up, but hoped sharing the story would stop it from happening to someone else.
“I could have spoken up but I didn’t because I didn’t understand the limitations of pet travel because I am not a flight attendant. I deeply regret that I trusted the authority on this flight,” she posted on Twitter.
The exact cause of the dog’s death is unknown. And this is not the first death of an animal on a United flight.
In August, the airline was blamed for the death of Lulu, a five-year-old King Charles spaniel, who died in the cargo hold during a flight.
And in April, a high-profile giant rabbit named Simon died in the cargo section on a United flight from London to Chicago.
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