United Airlines faces another case of mishandling a dog, after mistakenly shipping a German Shepherd to Japan while his family flew to Kansas City.
The mishap Tuesday came a day after a highly publicized incident in which a 10-month-old bulldog died in the overhead bin of a flight from Houston to New York. United's policy for pets traveling in airline cabins is to keep the animal in a container beneath a seat. But a flight attendant mistakenly ordered the passenger Monday to place the dog's bag in the bin, so the airline plans to label pet containers with bright tags starting in April.
In Tuesday's case of larger dogs traveling in cargo, Kara and Joseph Swindle arrived in Kansas City to find a Great Dane rather than their 10-year-old pet Irgo.
A veterinarian in Japan has checked on Irgo and deemed him well enough to travel home, so he is expected to be reunited with the Swindles later this week in Wichita.
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But Kara Swindle told CNN that he had an ear infection after a 16-hour flight with no food or water. She said the dog hasn't had medication in three days.
"I don’t know if he’s going to be able to sustain this flight, because he is a 10-year-old dog, and he’s never been on a flight before," she said. "I honestly don’t know if he’s going to survive this flight.”
Kara Swindle urged United to adopt better policies for keeping track of animals.
"I'm hoping that from now on they take better care of animals," Swindle told CNN. "They kind of treat them like they are luggage. I'm hoping they can put something into policy so that this will never happen again."
United paid for Swindle and her children to stay at a Marriott Hotel near the airport Tuesday night.
A spokesperson for the airline issued a statement to KCTV5 News explaining the incident.
"An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations,” the airline said. “We have notified our customers that their pets have arrived safely and will arrange to return the pets to them as soon as possible. We apologize for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened.”
In the incident Monday, a flight attendant mistakenly ordered a passenger to put her dog’s container in the overhead bin because of a misunderstanding about a dog being in the bag.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said he would introduce legislation Thursday to outlaw putting pets in airline overhead bins, with “significant fines” for violations.
The bill with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., is called the WOOFF Act, for the "welfare of our furry friends."