We know that more dogs die United Airlines than any other U.S. airline. But there’s more to the story. United is pushing back.
The stats are alarming. 506,994 animals flew on a U.S. airline last year. 24 died. 18 of those deaths came on United Airlines. That’s 75% of animal deaths!
But there’s more to the story.
In a fairly extensive Washington Post story, United (sort of) defends why it kills more dogs: United accepts higher-risk dog breeds and transports more animals than any other U.S. airline.
These types of dogs are known as brachycephalic, or “short-nosed” or “snub-nosed,” breeds. Their airways are more compact, which tends to lead to respiratory issues. The short-nosed breeds include bulldogs, boxers, pugs, Boston terriers, Pekingese, mastiffs, shih tzus and others.
For years, American and Delta have refused to ship these types of dogs, arguing that the risk of death or injury (and liability to the airline) was too high.
United claims it is performing a public service in transporting dogs that no one else does. It points to 3,000 military families that rely on United alone to transport their pets each year.
That’s why a United spokesman said–
Our goal is to help keep families together, and dogs are part of the family. A lot of times, families just don’t have an option.
If we track dog deaths from 2015-2017, 85 died. Nearly 40% of those deaths occurred a dog in the high-risk breed category (banned on American or Delta).
United is currently considering whether to continue accepting these pets (new bookings for its PetSafe program are currently unavailable), but has taken other steps to prevent dog deaths. These include much more scrupulous checks of animals (to ensure they do not go to the wrong destinations) and a requirement that ramp supervisors cross-check every animals boarded onto a United plane.
While there may be no excuse for the death of dogs, these two stats at least put United’s dog deaths in greater perspective.
We’ll see if United opts to continue to accept these dogs or adopts a more restrictive policy similar to American and Delta.