A woman in Oregon shared the tragic story of her dog Jacob, who died after traveling on United Airlines. The story has gone viral and created a public relations disaster for United.
Kathleen Considine booked her 7-year-old golden retriever, Jacob, on a United itinerary from Detroit to Portland so he could join her in Oregon where she had recently moved. Jacob’s trip, which included a one-hour layover in Chicago, was supposed to take 10 hours, but Considine says it took an additional 20 hours because Jacob’s crate did not fit on the connecting flight. Considine says Jacob was disoriented and non-responsive when she greeted him in Portland. He later died at a veterinary clinic.
Considine blames United for Jacob’s death. She says the airline treats pets like baggage and did not care if Jacob had food, water or time out of his cage. According to Considine, a United agent told her that the airline may have medicated her dog. Her story has been shared nearly 500,000 times on Facebook.
United has not officially replied to the situation despite numerous comments left on its Facebook page.
Tips for Traveling with Dogs
Horror stories like Jacob’s are not uncommon. Though many airlines offer pet travel programs, such as United’s PetSafe service, there are considerable risks involved in air travel, including everything from oxygen deprivation to missed flights and long waits on the tarmac.
The Humane Society urges dog owners to consider alternatives to flying. Drive to your destination whenever possible. If you’re going on vacation, leave your dog behind with a pet sitter or kennel.
It may not be possible to avoid air travel for certain trips, such as cross-country and overseas moves. If your pet is small enough to fit in a carry-on animal carrier, it may be able to travel with you in the cabin, which is reasonably safe for most dogs. If you have a large dog, however, it will have to fly in the cargo hold.
The Humane Society warns dog owners that deaths and injuries occur each year on commercial flights. If you have no other option but to book your dog in the cargo hold, follow this basic advice to help keep it safe:
Do your research. Some airlines are better than others at handling large dogs. Read reviews posted online by other dog owners who have traveled with their dog, and carefully select which airline you intend to fly. Follow all of the Humane Society’s travel safety tips.
Fly direct. Mistakes and delays are common during transfers. You can reduce the chance of such delays by flying direct. If a direct route to your destination is not available, consider the next closest airport and drive your dog the rest of the way.
Travel on the same flight. Don’t ship your dog on a commercial flight. Accompany it on the same flight so you can monitor the situation and speak up if you see something going wrong. The Humane Society says to ask the airline if you can watch your dog being loaded into and out of the cargo hold.
Prepare to spend money. You’re going to have to pay a fee to book your dog on a flight, and it will likely cost more to fly direct routes or to accompany your dog. Don’t skimp. Your dog is worth it.