More dogs die on United than on any other airline. Here’s why.
While United does carry a disproportionate number of the animals who die on planes, the airline says the disparity results from one simple variable: United accepts higher-risk dog breeds that other major U.S. carriers do not allow.
These types of dogs are known as brachycephalic, or “short-nosed” or “snub-nosed,” breeds. Their airways are more compact, which tends to lead to respiratory issues. The short-nosed breeds include bulldogs, boxers, pugs, Boston terriers, Pekingese, mastiffs, shih tzus and others.
For years, American and Delta have refused to ship these types of dogs, arguing that the risk of death or injury (and liability to the airline) was too high.
Up until last month, United continued to accept “snub-nosed” breeds for cargo shipments.
The airline’s rationale: For people who needed to travel with a boxer or a bulldog, United was often the only way their dog could travel by air. United says they consistently alerted customers to the heightened danger of putting their higher-risk dog on a plane. But ultimately, they say, airline representatives left it to customers to decide whether their pet could handle the trip.