A startling report shows that United Airlines is responsible for one third of U.S. animal deaths that occurred during air transit over the last five years.
CNBC said on Thursday that the death of a rare giant rabbit during shipment from London to Chicago has called attention to the fact that between January of 2012 and February of 2017, 53 animals died on United Flights. That number is out of a total of 136 animals that died on all airline flights over the last five years.
United issued a statement on Wednesday after the death of Simon, a 3-foot Giant Continental rabbit who was found dead in his carrier upon his arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
“The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team,” the statement said. “We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter.”
Simon’s breeder, Annette Edwards said that the rare giant rabbit had a veterinary exam three hours before his flight to the U.S. and was found to be in excellent health.
United has had its share of controversies in recent weeks. In March, the airline barred a pair of teenage girls from boarding a flight because they were wearing leggings. That story quickly faded however when video of passenger Dr. David Dao being battered and bloodied as he was removed against his will from an overbooked flight.
The company only made things worse for itself by appearing to blame Dao for his injuries in an internal memo that went viral after it was leaked.
The only U.S. airline with a higher mortality rate among transported animals in 2016 was Hawaiian airlines — a much smaller carrier that moved far fewer animals.
CNBC said, “During 2016, when United transported 109,149 animals, it had incidents of deaths or injuries in 2.11 out of every 10,000 animals, according the department. Hawaiian Airlines, which transported only 7,518 animals, had a higher rate of 3.99 deaths or injuries out of every 10,000 animals.”
Atlanta-based Delta Airlines lost more animals in transit in 2010 and 2011, but has since made changes in its policies, lowering the animal casualty rate to five deaths and five injuries in 2016.