United suspends pet cargo flights after multiple dog-related incidents

Dog reunited with owners after Japan detour

Dog reunited with owners after Japan detour

In a statement posted Tuesday on the company's website, United said it was temporarily halting its PetSafe program in order to "make improvements" that will better protect the safety of animals traveling as cargo on its planes.

Passengers can still carry small pets with them in carry-on luggage, the airline said.

United said it would immediately stop taking reservations for pets to travel in the program and expected the investigation of the program would be complete by May 1.

United Continental Holdings Inc is halting reservations for its animal transport service after drawing worldwide scorn in recent weeks for the death of a dog and other miscues in handling pets.

Last week was an extraordinary bad week for pets flying on United.

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And another flight made an unscheduled landing in OH after the airline learned a dog was on the wrong plane. In 2017, 1.3 out of every 10,000 animals the carrier transported in cargo holds died, according to the Transportation Department, compared with 0.47 out of every 10,000 across all airlines that reported data. It does not affect pets traveling in the cabin, like the French bulldog that died.

In addition to conducting a review, United recently updated its guidelines for dogs traveling in bags.

United Airlines transports more animals in the cargo hold than any other USA airline, according to Department of Transportation data. The second incident involved a PetSafe-fare dog accidentally shipped to Japan instead of Kansas City, Missouri, after a mix-up United said happened in Denver.

The airline has adopted some new policies meant to ensure that animals are tracked and accounted for at all stages of travel. A new app called Digi-Pet that debuted in Dallas, tracks key metrics like temperature and oxygen levels through sensors attached to the kennel.

"We are also reviewing this service and have already announced that beginning in April we will issue bright colored bag tags to help better identify pets who are traveling in-cabin", United said.

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