United says it's conducting review after dog died in plane’s cargo hold

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Daily (front) and China, English Bull Dogs, are posed by their handler at a news conference to announce the American Kennel Club (AKC) top ten most popular breeds in America in New York City
Daily (front) and China, English Bull Dogs, are posed by their handler at a news conference to announce the American Kennel Club (AKC) top ten most popular breeds in America in New York City, New York, US, March 21, 2017. Reuters/Mike Segar

United Airlines is being blamed for the death of a 5-year-old family dog. A Houston family is claiming that their King Charles Spaniel was in the cargo hold of the plane and held on the tarmac for two hours. The airline said it is looking into the incident.

The family said the dog died in the cargo when the flight was reportedly delayed. United had already released a statement to address the incident.

“We are so sorry to learn of Lulu’s passing and have reached out to our customer to offer our condolences and assistance," the statement, which was released to ABC13, reads. United stated that it is “deeply upset” when an animal suffers an injury while travelling. It is reportedly conducting a comprehensive review of the incident.

Lulu’s death

The Rasmussen family is mourning the death of their dog and took to Facebook to share their experience. Lulu, they said, was cleared for travel by a veterinarian before they dropped her off at animal cargo at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The family’s Sunday flight was delayed for almost two hours. It is unclear if Lulu and another family dog were in the cargo hold of the plane during the entirety of the delayed flight. Based on National Weather Service records, Sunday’s high temperature in Houston was 94 degrees with rain.

The Rasmussens previously said they were waiting for answers. “There were significant problems with the air conditioning in the main cabin where we are sitting, so we are deeply concerned about the conditions in cargo and worried that there was significant negligence on the part of #UnitedAirlines,” their Facebook post reads.

Lulu was found lifeless upon arrival in San Francisco. Her companion named Ginger was released to the Rasmussen family in good health.

It is not the first time that United was held responsible for animal deaths and cruelty. It faced complaints after the death of a giant rabbit on a flight from London to Chicago. In 2012, supermodel Maggie Rizer accused the airline of negligence after the death of her golden retriever, which was two years old at that time.

US Transportation Department’s consumer report from April 2017 indicated that United Airlines has one of the worst rankings when it comes to treating pets. The report revealed that 53 animals died on United flights from January 2012 through February 2017.

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