United Airlines sends German shepherd headed to Japan instead of Missouri, in second dog blunder this week

Someone in Japan is now also missing their Great Dane, who greeted the Swindle family in Missouri instead

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 2:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 8:44pm

It’s been a frightening week for dog owners considering putting their pet on plane.

First, there was a report Tuesday that a bulldog puppy died on a United Airlines flight after a flight attendant demanded that the dog’s owner stow him inside the overhead compartment for the duration of a three-hour flight.

Now, a Missouri-bound German shepherd has been mistakenly shipped to Japan by - again - United Airlines.

According to KCTV in Kansas City, Missouri, a family moving state from Oregon paid to have their dog, Irgo, shipped as cargo on a United flight.

But when the family went to United’s cargo centre at the Kansas City airport, they were met by a Great Dane that was inside a pet carrier that looked similar to Irgo’s.

The Great Dane was supposed to have been en route to Japan.

Irgo's United Airlines flight arrived in Japan at 4.30pm on Tuesday. Officials were able to locate Irgo as soon as the plane landed in Japan. He will see a vet and then be flown to the US.

United had originally told Swindle the dog might be quarantined in Japan for up to two week because it was an international flight.

Dog dies on United plane after owner was made to put it in overhead bin

The mix-up actually occurred during a connection in Denver, the airline said.

“An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations, the statement 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 apologise for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened,” United said.

When Irgo’s family spoke to KCTV on Tuesday, United had still wasn’t certain of exactly where Irgo had gone. At the time, they were waiting for the Japan-bound flight to land so they could check the cargo hold and see if the German shepherd was inside.

“I just want to know where my dog is. Like, the fact that we have no idea is the most frustrating part,” Kara Swindle, Irgo’s owner, told the TV station. “Because he could be in Kansas City and we’d have no idea, because the paperwork is all messed up.”

“It’s just horrible,” Swindle added.

Upon issuing an apology, United Airlines paid for Swindle and her children to stay at a hotel near the airport on Tuesday night.

The US Department of Transportation tracks incidents of death or injury to animals that are transported on major US air carriers.

In 2017, there were 24 deaths reported of the half-million animals transported by air – 0.79 deaths per 10,000 animals transported – and three-quarters of those deaths occurred on United Airlines.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) also tracks incidents in which animals were lost.

There was only one such recorded incident in 2017, which occurred on Alaska Airlines, though it was unclear in that recent DOT report whether an incident is counted as a “loss” if an animal is temporarily misplaced and later delivered to its owner.

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United Airlines recently changed their pet policy, limiting what animals are allowed in the plane's cabin. 

The changes follow an incident in which a passenger attempted to bring an emotional support peacock onto a plane.