United Breaks Cats And Dogs

Actually, make that United *bakes* cats and dogs.

But, according to Sinclair, her pets were not safe. In fact, she says, the comfort stop nearly killed them. As she sat in her window seat looking out onto the tarmac of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Sinclair says she saw a cargo employee kick Sedona’s crate six times to shove it under the shade of the plane’s wing instead of gently moving it there.

Urged by a fellow passenger, Sinclair began documenting what was happening to her animals.

“And the woman in front of me said – ‘Is that your dog?'” Sinclair said. “And she said, ‘Honey, I sure hope you’re taking video of this.’ And that was the beginning of the worst day of my life.”

She shot cell phone video that July day and shared it with NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit. The video she recorded periodically shows her pets left outside, not in a temperature-controlled vehicle. According to the National Weather Service, the high in Houston that day was 94 degrees. When they touched down in Boston, Sinclair said her dog was barely alive.

“Sedona’s entire crate was filled with blood, feces, urine,” Sinclair said. “Sedona was in full heat stroke. All of the blankets were filled with blood. She was urinating and defecating blood. She was dying, literally, right in front of me.”

Both pets ended up surviving and to its credit, United offered to pay the entire vet bill. But, and you knew there was going to be a but, there was a catch. The company was only willing to pay out after Sinclair signed a nondisclosure agreement. To her credit, she told them where they could put it.

And right there we have everything that’s wrong with United, though I know it’s hardly just them. Instead of making improvements to their dirt poor service, they’d rather pretend things didn’t happen with a few dollars and the threat of a lawsuit. But hey, at least they’re sort of up front about it, which is something, I guess. It’s a warning to find a better airline if such a thing exists if it’s nothing else.

United Airlines declined a request for an on-camera interview with NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.

Instead, in a written statement United Airlines said, “We are committed to ensuring safe and comfortable travel of all the pets that fly with us and regret that Sedona did not have a good experience. We offered to compensate Ms. Sinclair by fully reimbursing her vet bill, but unfortunately she declined to accept the terms of the agreement.”

In an email, NBC Bay Area asked Jennifer Dohm of United’s corporate communications office if the airlines will not reimburse Sinclair because she did not sign the nondisclosure agreement. “That’s correct,” Dohm responded.

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