Last year, 24 pets were either injured, lost, or dead on United Airlines flights, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Only three other airlines reported pet deaths, but UA had 12 more animal fatalities than all of its rivals.
The report shows that not only dogs were injured or killed on UA. Cats and birds were also mishandled on United Airlines flights. Some of the pets belonged to the passengers, while others were shipped from breeders for commercial purposes.
In 2017, United Airlines was behind 24 pet deaths, 15 pet injuries, and one animal loss. Nearly 507,000 animals flew with the airline last year.
Some experts wonder why United Airlines has such a grim toll amid all U.S. airlines. One answer may be related to United Airlines ferrying the most animals in 2017. United Airlines transported 23,204 more pets than the Alaska Airlines, which is the second on the list.
The Real Reason Behind UA Dog Deaths
What’s more, UA allows risky breeds onboard, unlike the other three airlines that reported pet fatalities. Some air flight companies like Spirit, Southwest, and Virgin American never allow animals in the cargo in the first place.
The UA said that most of pet deaths recorded last year involved a brachycephalic breed, which are a breed of dogs with very short nose. Most carriers don’t allow these dogs on board. Some of the most common brachycephalic breed are boxers, Shih Tzus, pugs, and Boston Terriers.
Veterinarians explained that these breeds of short-nosed dogs find it harder to breathe while midair. This is the main reason U.S. airlines banned them from flight. In extreme heat conditions, these animals can die of suffocation.
Many owners of these breeds choose United Airlines because they have no other option, which largely explains the high number of deaths.
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