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United Airlines halts shipments of pets in cargo

Staff Writer |
United Airlines is suspending new reservations for cargo-hold pet transportation.

The company will review the policy following a wave of negative publicity about the death of a puppy on board and mix-ups that sent several dogs to the wrong destinations.

United apologized last week for the death of a passenger's dog after its crate, with him inside, was put in an overhead bin.

Following the death of a French bulldog named Kokito, the airline said several dogs were sent to wrong destinations, including a German shepherd mistakenly flown to Japan rather than Kansas City.

The incidents are the most recent of United's public relations disasters since April, when passenger David Dao was violently dragged off a flight to make room for commuting crew.

The suspension will not affect pets traveling in the cabin. Following the puppy's death last week, United said it would require bags containing animals in the cabin to attach a brightly colored tag to the dog carrier to prevent animals from being placed in overhead bins.

The airline said a passenger told a flight attendant, who insisted the bag be put in the overhead bin, that a dog was inside the bag but the flight attendant did not hear or understand her.

United Airlines transports more animals in the cargo hold than any other U.S. airline, according to Department of Transportation data.

That is partly due to an animal-transportation business it inherited from Continental Airlines, when the two merged in 2010.

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