A ten-month-old French Bulldog puppy has died after a United Airlines flight attendant apparently told the dog's owner to put it in the overhead compartment. The flight in question was travelling from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport to New York's LaGuardia on United Flight 1284, and the owner boarded with the puppy 'Papacito' in an official carry on. Normal aeroplane procedure dictates that small dogs in carriers are fine to fly with, but are typically put under the owner's seat during the flight. In this instance, however, the flight attendant allegedly told the owner to place the carrier in an overhead bin for the duration of the flight.
June Lara, a passenger who sat behind the family, made an emotional Facebook post about what he saw:
Today, I boarded my first United Airlines flight.
On my way, I saw a Frenchie that looked identical to my own precious Winston. He was with his family - a young girl, no older than 8, her toddler sibling and their mother. He was meant to grow, learn, cry, play with those young children and be their furry friend. He was meant to live a long life filling that family's days with that special joy that only a dog can bring.
I sat behind the family of three and thought myself lucky - who doesn't when they get to sit near a puppy? However, the flight attendants of flight UA1284 felt that the innocent animal was better off crammed inside the overhead container without air and water. They INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow. They assured the safety of the family's pet so wearily, the mother agreed.
There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10 month old puppy. I cried with them three minutes later as she sobbed over his lifeless body. My heart broke with theirs as I realized he was gone.
The Humane Society of the U.S. says air travel can be risky for pets and especially dangerous for brachycephalic breeds — such as pugs or bulldogs, whose short nasal passages make them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. This little guy fought hard for his life, filling our flight with his cries until he finally ran out of breath. United Airlines does not care about the safety of their furry travelers. This poor family paid $125 for their pet to be murdered in front of them. There is no excuse for the pain this family is suffering.
Today, I boarded my last United Airlines flight.
United Airlines have accepted responsibility for the incident, and say they are now investigating the animal's death after confirming that the puppy, the breed of which can cost upwards of $1,000, should never have been placed in the overhead bins in the first place: "This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. 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 April last year, Simon, an oversized rabbit, also died while travelling on a United flight between London and Chicago.