After a Dog Dies Traveling in an Overhead Bin, United is Revamping Their Pet Travel System

Mike: All right, let’s do it. “The Legal Minute” with Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, at 1-800-LAW-10-10. We’ve got Paul Harding here. Good morning, Paul.

Paul: Good morning.

Mike: The United Airlines situation with the dog in the storage bin…

Paul: And the other dog got flown to Japan.

Mike: Yeah.

Paul: And then someone else… So, yeah. There’s lots going on there.

Mike: Now, you know, obviously not a subject everybody wants to talk about, but what do the passengers or the customers do in this situation? The airlines say, “Hey, we’re gonna take care of ’em,” but is there more that they can do?

Paul: Well, you know, again, when I looked at how many dogs actually travel, I was amazed. I mean, there’s tens of thousands. So the number of incidents, although always critical, even when you look at the number of people who died driving or the number of people that died, you know, in situations. But as it pertains to animals here, you know, it’s still kind of a small number, overall. But here, you know, you’ve got airline personnel who now claim, “Hey, you know, she spoke Spanish and I didn’t quite get what she was saying and I put this bin up top, which I thought was empty. Turned out there was a dog in it.” I don’t know. That story feels a little funny to me.

Mike and Mary: Yeah.

Mary: Me too.

Paul: But ultimately, you know, I think that there’s no one out there looking to harm animals, including the airline. But I do suspect there’s gonna be some new rules in town, that are either gonna come through, you know, one of the states or federally, that are gonna change the way that animals get transported.

Mary: I just saw on United that, effective immediately, they’re not accepting any new reservations for their PetSafe travel, but they’re still gonna honor what’s happening now. These people have any, what is the word, recourse?

Paul: Yeah. You know, so, it’s interesting. So, there’s no lawsuit, really, for the value of a dog. So let’s say that they do drop the ball and do something horrible and the dog dies. Let’s say in this situation, they did bring about the dog’s death. We don’t know that but let’s say that they did. The only value there is is the value of the dog. The older the dog, the less the value.

Mike: Wow.

Mary: Interesting.

Paul: There’s no pain and suffering. There’s no claim. It’s a public relations nightmare. We all love our animals. They, you know, certainly wanna have animals travel safely. But ultimately, this isn’t really a money thing. It’s just a social media and media thing and a PR disaster. But ultimately, there is no claim…

Mike: Wow.

Paul: …for…yeah

Mike: We love our pets. And not that it’s a money thing, but I would have thought they would have had a huge…they could have gotten a lot of money. But they can’t get anything, huh?

Paul: Probably less than $300.

Mike: Wow.

Mary: It’s legal…

Mike: That’s not right, it seems.

Mary: It’s the law versus what? Not humanity, but your personal feelings.

Paul: Yeah. There’s no pain and suffering for the loss of your animal.

Mike: Holy cow.

Paul: At this point, you know, again, what the airline is trying to say, “Look, we’re not doing any new reservations. We’re gonna revamp our system. We’re gonna have tags now. The tags will be bright orange, so if we see a tag that’s bright orange, we know there’s a living…

Mike: A living animal.

Paul: …animal in there and we’re gonna keep”…but again, you know, it does seem like they’ve got a problem. Most of the animal deaths are…I guess 70% of them were that airline.

Mary: Wow.

Paul: But ultimately, we’re gonna see some changes. I hope we don’t see these criminal charges that people are talking about against this airline attendant. I am confident she didn’t intend anything what she did.

Mike: Sure. Yeah. No.

Mary: That’s a good point.

Mike: Absolutely. I’m sure. Paul, thank you, man. It’s Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, at 1-800-LAW-10-10. And we’ll be talking to you in a week.

Paul: Sounds great, guys. Thank you.

Mary: Yeah. Thanks, Paul.