A French bulldog puppy named Kokito is dead — and it could have been avoided.
A United Airlines passenger flying from Houston to New York this week agreed to a flight attendant’s insistence that she put him in an overhead compartment before takeoff.
“The pet owner was very adamant that she did not want to put the pet carrier up above,” Maggie Gremminger, a passenger who was seated behind the dog owner, told The New York Times. “She was saying verbally, ‘My dog is in here, no, this is my dog.’ The flight attendant, in response, really just continued to ask her to put it above because it was a hazard where it was, it was a safety emergency, someone could trip.”
— Newsradio WTAM 1100 (@wtam1100) March 14, 2018
The dog owner was also flying with two small children, one of them an infant. After the dog was put into the overhead compartment during takeoff, he barked a few times and then fell silent. His owner, preoccupied with the infant, did not check on him until the plane had landed. They all apparently assumed there would be ventilation — otherwise the flight attendant wouldn’t have urged putting him there.
After landing at LaGuardia Airport, the dog owner opened the compartment and found her dog’s dead body. She collapsed in shock.
This morning on @ABC7NY hear from the family of French bulldog Kokito who died after family say a flight attendant forced them to put the pet in a overhead bin during a flight. How the airline is responding. pic.twitter.com/ANmzHvzS9h
— Candace McCowan (@CandaceMcCowan7) March 14, 2018
Gremminger posted a photo of herself crying on Facebook, explaining what had happened. “My heart is broken,” she wrote, tagging United Airlines. “I am in shock and don’t know how I’ll sleep.”
It is actually against the airline’s policy to ever put pets in overhead bins. The dog was in a carrier that should have been able to be placed under the seat.
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” Maggie Schmerin, a spokeswoman for the airline, said in a statement. “We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them.”
“Barking just stopped” French Bulldog puppy Kokito is dead tonight after a @united flight attendant placed him in overhead bin on flight from IAH to NYC. Tonight hear from that puppy’s owner in a heartbreaking interview about what happened. Don’t miss it on #KHOU11 at 10. pic.twitter.com/cXh4cZLv8e
— Marcelino Benito (@MarcelinoKHOU) March 14, 2018
Newly concerned for animals who fly, animal groups are reminding pet owners to review their rights and airline regulations after the accident. It is important to remember to check with each airline about requirements for carriers and general regulations before heading to the airport, since they all vary.
“This poor puppy died, and it could have been avoided,” Second Chance Rescue NYC Dogs wrote on Facebook. “You are allowed to bring your small dog in cabin, in an airline-approved travel carrier. This airline attendant was wrong, and the owner listened to her. It cost a poor puppy his life.”