United Airlines had its third dog-related mishap this week, following up on the death of a puppy its flight attendants allegedly insisted be stuffed in an overhead bin and the accidental shipment of another dog to Japan by putting a third dog in the wrong plane.
Per the Washington Post, a United flight from Newark, New Jersey, to St. Louis, Missouri, on Thursday was diverted due to the presence of a dog that should have been put onto a different flight to Akron, Ohio. CNN reported that at least 33 passengers were on the flight, all of whom were given an undisclosed amount of compensation for the diversion.
United told the Post in a statement that it had “chose the fastest option to reunite the dog with his family.” The paper reported that the flight took roughly two additional hours to get to its intended destination:
Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-data company Flightradar24, told The Post that the flight averages about two hours. This was a four-hour journey, with roughly an hour and a half spent on the ground in Akron after diverting near Columbus, he said.
While United may have some serious dog-related problems on its PR side, this week could end up costing it big on other fronts, too. Department of Transportation officials as well as a Texas district attorney’s office are looking into the death of the first dog earlier this week, the Post reported, and there is a possibility the matter could escalate into fines or animal cruelty charges. Republican Sen. John Kennedy also demanded an explanation for United’s high rates of animal deaths in transit—18 of the 24 deaths on major US air carriers in 2017—and has said he will propose legislation that could punish any future mistreatment of animals with stiff fines.