Study: United Airline Responsible For Half Of Animal Injury and Death on Planes

PetGuide
PetGuide logo

The punches keep coming for United Airlines. The death of a French Bulldog who was forced in the overhead cabin during a flight this week brought major attention to the irresponsibility and animal rights violations a United Airlines flight attendant displayed. The news and accounts of the tragic situation have been splayed all over the world, and the family grieves for its beloved family member.

Added to the mix of ridiculousness, United just claimed responsibility for a mix-up in which a family German Shepherd belonging to the Swindle family from Wichita, Kansas, and who was meant to fly to Kansas City, MO ended up in JAPAN, while the Great Dane who was supposed to go to Japan was waiting for the Swindle family to pick up.

Related: United Airlines Flubs Again; Mistakenly Sends Family Dog To Japan

The news has just continued to make jaws drop and people wonder, “Just how safe is it for United to fly my dog anywhere?”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation numbers? Only about half as safe as all other U.S. airline carriers. In the last three years, United reported that over half of the 147 injuries and deaths of animals on U.S. airline carriers were on their airline.

They also reported being the carrier that took more animals in the last three years, but it’s still an incident rate that’s more than twice as high for United than is the average for the other 18 airlines and regional carriers who also reported incidents to the Department of Transportation.

United spokesperson Charlie Hobart said that its because United is so detailed and diligent with reporting any incident because of the importance of reporting, that their report numbers are higher. As airlines are responsible for self-reporting, Hobart says something as minor as a toenail cut will be reported as an injury because United takes pet care seriously.

We’re guessing that the families of some of the 85 animals whose deaths were reported between 2015 and 2017 don’t necessarily buy that, as United claimed responsibility for almost half of them.

Hawaiian Airlines had the second highest pet injury rates or deaths with 1.44 per 10,000, based on 2015-2017 statistics. That’s slightly higher than .94 per 10,000, which is the average of all airlines. More than 1.5 million animals flew on the 18 reporting agencies from 2015 to 2017. Investigations found that most of the deaths were because of pre-existing conditions, or animals not being able to acclimate properly to air travel.

Related: Dog Dies After United Flight Attendant Insists It Be Stowed In Overhead Bin

But not always. A United flight from London to Chicago last year resulted in the death of a 10-month-old continental giant rabbit named Simon. Simon was accidentally put in a freezer by United Employees, and died as the son of the world’s largest rabbit. His father was four foot, four inches, and Simon was expected to grow even larger, as he was already three feet.

United’s PetSafe program includes the sending of a 23-page pamphlet that contains tips and guidelines for safe air passage, and Hobart says that they have dedicated professionals who are committed to the safety and comfort of every animal they transport.