(Courtesy of Robledo family)
NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - On top of the backlash because of a dog that died on one of its flights Monday, United Airlines dealt with another pet controversy on Wednesday when it sent two dogs to the wrong destinations.
Kara Swindle said that United mixed up two pet dogs and sent her German shepherd to Japan instead of to Kansas. United has apologized.
"I can't cry anymore. I've cried too much," she said. "At this point, all I can do is be hopeful that my dog is going to be OK and will return safely."
Fox 5 reported that a flight attendant on a United flight from Houston to LaGuardia forced a dog owner to put the carrier with her French bulldog in the overhead bin instead of under the seat. Catalina Robledo and her daughter Sophia said they told the flight attendant that a dog was in the bag.
Other passengers on the flight who were outraged by the tragedy posted on social media that the family did tell the flight attendant and did hear the dog barking.
United apologized for Coquito's death and accepted responsibility. But the airline issued a second statement saying, "However, our flight attendant did not hear or understand her, and did not knowingly place the dog in the overhead bin. As we stated, we take full responsibility and are deeply sorry for this tragic accident."
Aviation attorney Daniel Rose passengers are reluctant to question or disobey flight attendants for fear of being kicked off the plane.
"United is on a streak of situations where there's a disconnect of using common sense and what should be done," he said. "The passenger is in a lose-lose situation."
This is just the latest black eye for United.
Last April, a doctor was dragged off a flight screaming after he refused to give up his seat for a United employee.
A month later, a giant pet rabbit died on a flight.
And in another incident, young girls weren't allowed to board a United flight because they were wearing leggings.
Jon Bond, a marketing expert, said airlines need to get rid of these "militaristic rules," which are fine when the plane is in flight but aren't good when it comes to customer service.
All of the airlines combined transported more than 500,000 animals in cargo holds in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. United accounted for just over 138,000.
In 2017, 24 animals died on flights; 18 of them were on United flights. Of the 15 animals that were hurt, 13 were on United.
United told Fox 5 that independent medical experts determined most of the animal deaths were due to pre-existing conditions or the animal being unfamiliar with traveling in a crate.
To prevent situations, like the one with Coquito, United said starting in April it will issue bright-colored bag tags to customers traveling with pet carrier bags so that flight attendants will know a pet is in the bag.