A 10-month-old puppy died on board a United Airlines flight after an attendant said the dog had to be placed in an overhead bin.
The airlines apologized for the incident, which took place on a trip from Houston to New York City. "This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred," the carrier said in a statement. The airlines extended its "deepest condolences to the family."
Some passengers took to social media to express shock at seeing the dead dog being wept over by its owner.
"My heart is broken," Maggie Gremminger wrote on her Facebook page. "I am in shock and don't know how I'll sleep," she said. Gremminger posted that she saw a flight attendant tell the dog's owner to put the pup in the overhead compartment.
"The passenger adamantly refused but the flight attendant went on with the instruction. At the end of the flight, the dog was found dead in the carrier. I am heartbroken right now," Gremminger wrote.
The dog's owner, a mother traveling with two children, was not identified.
Passenger June Lara also took to Facebook, writing "Today, I boarded my last United Airlines flight." The pup was in a carrier under a seat when it barked a few times, Lara said. The owner was ordered to put the carrier in the overhead bin, and the woman was told the dog would be fine up there, Lara wrote.
"There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10-month-old puppy. I cried with them three minutes later as she sobbed over his lifeless body. My heart broke with theirs as I realized he was gone," Lara said.
The black French bulldog should never have been placed in the bin, and United said it accepted full responsibility for the animal's death.
Monday's death was the latest in a troubling series of incidents on United planes. Last April, a doctor was dragged screaming and bleeding from an overbooked flight in Chicago. In August, the airlines apologized to the owners of 5-year-old King Charles Spaniel that died after being loaded into the cargo hold. Last spring, a giant rabbit head to a state fair died on a flight that originated in Britain.