"I'm so scared. I can't breathe! Why doesn't anyone hear me?" Is this what terrified young Kokito was thinking as he slowly suffocated to death while trapped in an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight? We can't know exactly what this horrified puppy was thinking, but we can act now to make sure no animal ever suffers in agony the way Kokito did on a flight again.
Kokito, a 10-month-old French bulldog, was placed in an overhead bin by a United flight attendant. According to first-hand accounts, the attendant was told there was a dog inside, yet she insisted the airline-approved carrier be placed in an unventilated space where his horrible suffering was ensured and his fate was sealed. For at least two hours of the three-and-one-half-hour flight from Houston to New York, he could be heard barking. Then, silence.
United has stated it is not its policy to place animals in overhead bins. So, why did the flight attendant violate policy? And where were other flight attendants when this was happening? Our animal companions are part of the family and should be treated as such.
Sealing a family member in an overhead bin is ludicrous, yet it happened, and no-one intervened. Passengers should never have to fight a flight attendant to protect their family members.
United had the most animal-related deaths in 2017 — 18 out of a total of 24 recorded deaths of animals by a major U.S. carrier.
Along with United's poor record of keeping animals alive on flights, it also has a serious problem with transporting animals who fly in cargo. In the days following Kokito's death, United twice sent dogs in the wrong direction. On March 14, United mistakenly switched two kennels in Denver and thus sent a Great Dane to Kansas and a German Shepherd to Japan instead of the other way around. The day after that, it again sent dogs in the wrong direction, and a flight from Newark to St. Louis had to be diverted to correct United's mistake.
When you travel with your animal companion, always make sure you know what rights you both have and make sure to have a copy of the airline's guidelines in writing as you board your flight. Do not assume the airline is going to protect your animal companion. You may need to fight for their survival.
Let United know you are horrified at what its staff did and that you hold its management to blame for a lack of training. Insist the airline reinforces its policies regarding animals in the cabin and that it ensure that all staff know what that policy is. No living, breathing, sentient being should ever experience what Kokito did ever again!
Contact the CEO of United Airlines and insist he ensure that the policies that are already in place to protect animals in flight are known organization-wide and acknowledged in writing by every employee. Additionally, demand that he will ensure that all personnel who come into contact with animals are trained in proper protocol. Ask that all applicable rules are given to patrons who are flying with or sending their animal companions without accompaniment prior to the expected departure date.
1. Make a call.
Call United Airlines at 1-847-700-4000 and choose the Operator option to leave your message. Say your message is for Oscar Munoz, Chief Executive Officer, and that you want him to ensure the following:
2. Send our letter, by filling out the form, using your own words where possible to personalize your message.
No More Kokitos: Protect Animals Flying with United
Dear [Decision Maker],
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
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