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United to halt shipping dogs as cargo

031818-dog-killed-unitedUnited Airlines is suspending its pet-shipping service and reviewing safety procedures after a string of embarrassing mix-ups last week.

The airline will honor existing reservations for dogs to travel as cargo.

But it won’t be accepting any new pet reservations until the review is completed in May.

“We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets,” the airline said in a statement.

The move will not affect pets flying in the cabin with their owners.

The airline shipped at least three dogs to the wrong destination in the past week. A Kansas City-bound German shepherd was shipped to Japan after he was mixed up with a Great Dane who was supposed to be sent to Japan. Days later, United diverted a plane to Akron after realizing it had mistakenly loaded a dog aboard the flight from Newark Airport to St. Louis.

And in an earlier, highly publicized mistake, a family says they were forced by a flight attendant to load the carrier their French bulldog was in into an overhead bin.

The dog died before the Houston-to-New York City flight landed.

United, which took full responsibility for the death, claimed the flight attendant “did not hear or understand” the family’s protests.

In addition to reviewing its cargo procedures for pets, the airline is also reviewing its service for in-cabin pets, and it plans to issue brightly colored tags to better identify them in carriers starting next month.

Last year, United reported the deaths of 18 animals on its planes, far higher than other major airlines, according to the Department of Transportation.