A mother of two was forced to watch her French bulldog get stuffed into the overhead compartment of a United Airlines flight, begging a flight attendant not to put the animal up there.
Catalina Robledo helplessly listened to the dog, Kokito, yelp before it died aboard the Houston-to-New York flight Monday, she told Telemundo.
“The dog barked and barked but I could not stand,” because her newborn baby was on her lap and the plane was going through turbulence, Robledo said in Spanish.
The flight crew, she continued, did nothing as Kokito barked.
Robledo and people sitting nearby tried to explain there was a dog inside, passengers said.
She wasn’t able to get to Kokito until four hours later as the plane arrived at LaGuardia Airport.
“I grabbed him on the floor and said: ‘Kokito breathe, breathe,’” she told Telemundo in Spanish. “But he was already dead.”
The stewardess claimed she didn’t know there was a dog inside the carrier, Robledo said, and left the plane crying.
Kokito, believed to be only 10 months old, was like another child, said Robledo, whose 11-year-old daughter was with her on the flight.
United took responsibility for the “tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin.”
Charles Hobart, a spokesman for the Chicago-based airline, told the Associated Press it wasn’t known why the unidentified stewardess didn’t place the dog carrier under Robledo’s seat.
Robledo’s tickets were refunded, Hobart added, along with the typical $200 fee charged for carrying a pet. They’ve also offered to pay for an autopsy, he said.
Eighteen animals died in United's care last year, numbers from the Department of Transportation show, compared with six killed among all other U.S. airlines.