A French bulldog less than one year old reportedly died on a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York City Monday night after a flight attendant forced the dog’s owner to put the animal in an overhead bin.
The Houston Chronicle reports that United Airlines has confirmed an animal died on Fight 1284, after passengers stories were shared widely on social media — to some skepticism, given the shocking claims.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES/DESCRIPTION
Passenger June Lara shared a Facebook post describing the horrific incident. Lara said he was seated next to a family who had their ten-month-old French Bulldog on the flight.
“I sat behind the family of three [a mother, a daughter, and an infant] and thought myself lucky – who doesn’t when they get to sit near a puppy?,” Lara wrote.
“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,” Lara continued.
“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.”
I want to help this woman and her daughter. They lost their dog because of an @united flight attendant. My heart is broken. pic.twitter.com/mjXYAhxsAq
— MaggieGremminger (@MaggieGrem) March 13, 2018
CrimeOnline spoke to Maggie Gremminger, another passenger on the flight, who said she was sitting a row behind the dog owner.
“I am not a pet owner, and I thought ‘this is weird,'” when the flight attendant allegedly insisted that the dog, which was reportedly in a mesh carrier, go in the overhead bin. Gremminger believes that the flight attendant demanded the carrier be moved from under the passenger’s seat because it may have been partially blocking the aisle.
“The owner seemed uncomfortable,” Gremminger said. “It wasn’t a mystery why she didn’t want to move it.”
But eventually, the dog owner complied with the flight attendant’s orders.
Gremminger said she did a Google search for information about animal safety on planes, but couldn’t find anything that addressed that situation specifically.
“I am incredibly guilted because it felt weird,” she said, adding that many on the flight may not have realized what was happening, because the discussion with the passenger and the flight attendant happened during boarding.
Gremminger said she heard the dog bark twice during the flight, once during takeoff and at another point during turbulence. And she will never forget the scene on the plane after it landed.
“I heard some gasping and sobbing and when I looked around I saw the woman on the ground in the airplane aisle just crying. As she rocked back and forth, I saw she was cradling the body of her dog,” Gremminger said, adding that the woman’s young daughter was also in tears.
“It felt like it wasn’t happening,” she said. “I felt incredibly … just numb.”
Gremminger said that she stayed at the airport to offer her condolences and her account as a witness. She said that United staff appeared appropriately concerned about what happened, and that she thinks it is possible that no one on staff besides that one flight attendant realized the dog was in the overhead bin.
“A lot of the United staff was just as in shock as anyone else,” she said, adding that the flight attendant who ordered the dog carrier into the bin told her that she didn’t realize a dog was in the bag.
Gremminger, while noting that the flight attendant seemed frazzled during the incident, said she is not convinced.
“I don’t know if the flight attendant can say she didn’t know there was a dog,” Gremminger said, insisting that she herself clearly heard the owner tell the flight attendant that a dog was in the carrier.
Still, Gremminger said, “I can’t imagine that a flight attendant wanted to do this.”
“There was some disconnect, but I don’t know where that is.”
United Airlines said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle that it is investigating the incident.
“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.”
[Feature image: Dog carrier after United flight/June Lara Facebook]