King Charles Spaniel Dies In United Cargo Hold

United is in the news again and like you guessed, it’s not good news.

By Justyne Yuen-Lee
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Lulu, a 5-year-old King Charles Spaniel, died on a United Airlines flight from Houston to San Francisco in cargo hold. United Airlines has apologized to Lulu’s family, the Rasmussens. In their statement, United said,

“We are so sorry to learn of Lulu’s passing and have reached out to our customer to offer our condolences and assistance. We are deeply upset any time an animal suffers an injury while travelling with us and especially grieved in the rare instance that one passes away.”

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United claims they are conducting an investigation for the sudden death. However, Lulu’s death is not the first animal to die while on a United flight. In April, world famous giant Flemish Rabbit Simon, also died on a trans-Atlantic flight. Veterinarians cleared both animals to fly safely.

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According to data from the US transportation department, 9 out of 26 animal deaths on flights were from United Airline flights. Investors of Simon the Flemish rabbit are suing United Airlines arguing that their crew was responsible for his death.

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United Airlines is the same airline that made headlines when a man was dragged off the plane after an overbooking problem. These three instances reported in the news opens the issues for both humans and animals looking to travel by plane.

Dr. Sheldon of Get Leashed suggests avoiding having your pet fly cargo.

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In one of our past pieces, Should Pets Fly Cargo, we ask Dr. Sheldon for a professional opinion on air travel with pets. He says, “If it’s constant type of travel, I would never suggest you bringing your pet back and forth in cargo. You’re increasing the risk and your pet would be much better off left in someone’s care instead.”

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This meaning that if you can avoid flying your pet in cargo, then you should always choose the alternative. And if you must fly your pet for a one-time occasion like a move to another country or state, always do your research.

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Each airline has different policies for which animals can stay in the cabin and which must be in cargo. These depend on the size, breed, age, type of carrier, and type of flight (international or domestic).

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It is always advised to consult a veterinarian before having your pet fly, for possible heart or breathing issues you may not be aware of. Owners of snub-nosed breeds (Pugs, Bulldogs, etc.) are even more limited in their travel options.

Not all dogs are good candidates to fly with, so humans must weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

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It may be a better choice to bring a photo or a stuffed version of your pet instead of keeping in the cargo hold. Although Dr. Sheldon says travelling in cargo isn’t necessarily unsafe, but there are always risks.

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We understand it is difficult to be away from your pet and bringing them everywhere you go would be the best, but as people with pets, it is always important to consider their safety while travelling.

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“If an airline can lose luggage, they can lose your pet,” says Dr. Sheldon. Delays and other situations are already stressful without your pet and would increase with your pet who would be inaccessible to you.

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The number of missing pets or reported deaths has caused some airlines like Delta Airlines to ban all pets from travelling in cargo.

Overall, the decision is up to you when travelling with your pet.

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Who knows? Maybe your pet was destined for the travelling life. And if your pet is small enough, you could pay the extra money to have them on your lap. Or even – pay for the whole flight!

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We’re only joking. The reality is – if you absolutely must have your pet travel by cargo, we hope it is a one-time thing rather than a frequent flying situation.

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We know that you have your pet’s best interest at heart and that you will take all the planning and consideration in the world to keep your pet safe.

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But let us take Lulu’s story to heart and remember that there is always a risk while travelling with your pet. Our hearts go out to the Rasmussens.