United Airlines is once again under heavy fire after it mistakenly flew a Kansas-bound German Shepherd to Japan.
Kara and Joseph Swindle, along with their two children and their pet German Shepherd dog, Irgo, were in the process of moving from Oregon to Wichita, Kansas, when the horrible mishap happened, according to KCTV5.
The mother and children, accompanied by their 10-year-old German Shepherd, flew from Oregon to Kansas via United Airlines on Tuesday. On that same night, upon landing in Kansas, the family was shocked to discover that Irgo was missing, and was instead given a Great Dane dog.
Swindle discovered the mix-up and was informed that Irgo had been put on a flight to Japan, and that the Great Dane dog, which was originally planned to fly out of the country, was instead put on a flight to Kansas.
Officials in Japan, where Irgo landed, were quickly able to locate the canine, who was promptly sent to a veterinarian for check up. The airline notified the family, informing them that Irgo will be put on a flight back to Kansas on Thursday evening.
The airline told the mother they were not sure how the mishap took place, but mentioned that both the dogs’ kennels were similar in style. United, meanwhile, paid for the family’s stay at a Marriott Hotel near the airport during the mix-up on Tuesday night.
“An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations. 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,” the airline wrote in the statement to KCTV5.
Swindle, however, expressed her worry about the safety of her 10-year-old dog flying back from Japan to Kansas.
“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,” the mother said. “I honestly don’t know if he’s going to survive this flight.”
The pet mishap came days after the horrible death of a family dog, Kokito, on a United Airlines flight when an attendant insisted it stay inside an overhead bin. Kokito was not given any water during the three-hour flight, and shortly after landing the dog was unresponsive, according to, ABC News.
This came after United announced its drastic change in pet policy that went in effect on March 1 to combat passengers abusing airline rules regarding comfort animals. Small dogs that are comfort pets inside a carrier are reportedly allowed as long as they can perfectly fit under the seat of its owner. The airline normally charges $125 for pets to board, but comfort animals typically fly for free.
Pet mix-ups, deaths, and the infamous Dr. David Dao scandal have plagued United Airlines in the recent years. According to data in 2016, nine pets – eight dogs and one Sphinx cat – had died while under the care of the airline company during their respective flights while 14 pets suffered injuries, according to the Los Angeles Times, giving United Airlines the worst record in the U.S. for pet deaths.
This has apparently gone down from its previous record in 2015, where 14 deaths had been recorded while nine pet were injured.
However, United Airlines had absolved itself from all the 2016 pet deaths, saying that most of them died of natural causes, mainly “heart failure, arteriosclerosis, respiratory failure ‘associated with brachycephalic breeds,’ the dogs and cats with pushed-in faces,” said in the report.