A 10-month old French bulldog puppy suffocated to death in a plane’s overhead bin on Tuesday, after a United Airlines flight attendant allegedly forced its owners to place the dog there for the duration of their three-hour flight.
According to BuzzFeed News, Kokito was in a standard pet carrier and placed by its owner, Catalina Castano, under the seat in front of her. Catalina was traveling with her two children after visiting her husband, Bryan, who told BuzzFeed News the family had paid United the necessary fee to carry Kokito with them in a cabin.
However, Bryan asserted that a flight attendant told Catalina she had to place the carrier — with Kokito still inside it — inside of an overhead bin. Maggie Gremminger, a passenger on the same flight, wrote about the incident on Facebook.
“My wife repeatedly asked her to let her keep the dog by her feet,” Brayan told BuzzFeed News. “She then asked her if the dog would be OK. The flight attendant wouldn’t let her keep Kokito by her feet and assured her that he would be fine. Witnesses can attest to that.”
United has since called the incident a “tragic accident” and issued a statement: “We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”
The airline is also reportedly refunding the family’s tickets and paying for a necropsy for the dog.
Many people — including a slew of celebrities — took to Twitter to express their anger; some even threatening to boycott United.
— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) March 14, 2018
— Miles Teller (@Miles_Teller) March 14, 2018
This is horrific, awful, upsetting and should never be allowed to happen again. https://t.co/ftK24z2NL0
— James Corden (@JKCorden) March 14, 2018
The United Airlines flight attendant has not been identified.