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Tag: pets

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.

NY council member calls for Wag probe


Wag, an Uber-like app that pairs dogs with walkers, is getting more heat in New York, with city council members calling for an investigation into its dismal safety record.

Lawmakers and animal-rights advocates say Wag walkers have lost as least seven New York dogs since 2015 — four in the last two months.

“I have reached out to the Department of Consumer Affairs to investigate Wag immediately,” Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), a former animal-welfare advocate. “I feel absolutely terrible for these animal lovers and what they’ve been through. Clearly, Wag’s vetting process is a joke. Maybe this kind of thing flies in West Hollywood but it doesn’t fly here in New York City.”

According to the New York Post, dogs who escaped from Wag walkers in February included an Upper East Side Chihuahua named Norman, who slipped out of his harness and is still missing, and a goldendoodle named Simba who darted from his walker and was hit by a car.

New York City requires dogsitters to be licensed, but there are no rules governing walkers.

“There aren’t any regulations and there should be,” said Manhattan animal-rights lawyer Susan Chana Lask. “You can’t be the ‘Uber for Dogs’ without some kind of licensing — we already know what happened with Uber.”

Wag says its walkers must pass a background check, complete a rigorous online dog-safety and dog-knowledge test and attend an in-person orientation.

The Post reported that their are rumblings among state lawmakers as well that Wag might be worthy of some scrutiny.

“There’s a good possibility we may need some extra regulations and guidelines,” said state Sen. James Tedisco, who represents Schenectady.

(Photo: Teddy, a dog that went temporarily missing while under the care of Wag in December 2017; Facebook)

Retrievers bring back unforgettable win


Undersized, unknown, and underdogs in every meaning of the word, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) made history this weekend as the first 16th seed ever to beat a one seed in the men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The 20-point victory over top-seeded University of Virginia was an inspiring thing to watch, leaving some fans with brackets smashed and hopes dashed; some celebrating a Cinderella story that, just maybe, outdid the original; and still more scratching their heads over the upstart team’s unusual (in the sports world) name — the Retrievers.

As golden as they were Friday night, the team’s not named for that type of retriever, but after the Chesapeake Bay retriever, the state dog of Maryland.

cbrThe Chesapeake Bay retriever has been the mascot of UMBC since its founding in 1966.

The costumed mascot was known as “Fever the Retriever” in the late 1990s. Later, the school had a live mascot, called Campus Sam.

At the beginning of the 2008 fall semester, a Chesapeake Bay retriever puppy was chosen as a new mascot. He attended many athletic events and an online poll was held to give him a name, Gritty, or True Grit, as a statue of a retriever that stands in front of the Retriever Activities Center.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of UMBC in 2006, the University held the “March of the Retrievers,” a procession of 40 Chesapeake Bay Retrievers from the True Grit statue to the University Commons and then on to the UMBC Soccer Stadium.

umbmemeAfter UMBC’s startling win, the meme postings began on social media — most of them featuring golden retrievers or Labrador retrievers.

More than a few new fans of the team just assumed the mascot must be a golden retriever, but maybe that was because they’ve watched too many Air Bud movies.

Only a few dog breeds show up commonly in the names of college sports teams — huskies, of course; bulldogs, for sure. Southern Illinois University has the Salukis. Boston University has the Terriers.

And UMBC, the college with a long name, chose a breed that honors the state dog, but shortened the name — maybe out of consideration for the cheerleaders.

“Go, University of Maryland Baltimore County Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, go!” is a bit of a mouthful.

The Retrievers had their chance to get to the Sweet 16 last night, facing Kansas State University (whose mascot is, yawn, yet another Wildcat). Despite another gutsy effort, they fell.

On the bright side, though — one I’m sure that will be featured heavily in the “One Shining Moment” montage that always concludes the tournament — they had their history-making night, and what a night it was.

The dogs of Amazon: Their numbers keep growing

Just as the number of employees is skyrocketing at Amazon’s Seattle campus, so too are the number of dogs.

Not too long ago, the company boasted that 4,000 dogs were coming to work regularly with employees.

In this recent post on the Amazon blog, it was revealed there are now 6,000 dogs “working” at Amazon’s Seattle campus, which has about 40,000 employees.

Of course not that many show up on campus every day — only about 500 do — but that’s the number of dogs Amazon’s dogs at work program has registered.

For those who do come along, it’s a pretty sweet set up. They have a “doggie deck” with a fake fire hydrant where dogs can run around and burn off energy. They also have “Dogs Only” water fountains, a 1,000-square-foot dog park with rocks and other structures to climb on, poop bag stations, designated dog relief areas, receptionists armed with dog treats, a doggie treat truck called The Seattle Barkery, and regularly scheduled dog events.

Amazon even has it’s own equivalent of a human resources chief for dogs — Lara Hirschfield, the company’s “Woof Pack” manager.

“The dog-friendly policy also contributes to the company’s culture of collaboration.” Hirschfield said in the blog post. “Dogs in the workplace is an unexpected mechanism for connection. I see Amazonians meeting each other in our lobbies or elevators every day because of their dogs.”

There are no breed or size restrictions.

The policy reflects the company’s belief that pets at work can reduce stress, increase productivity, improve morale, expedite social interaction, improve job satisfaction and provide companionship. A few moments relaxing with a dog, can improve concentration on the job afterwards.

The dog friendly policy dates back to a pup named Rufus, a Welsh corgi who belonged to Amazon’s former editor-in-chief and principal engineer. Rufus came to work every day, and employees would even use Rufus’ paw to click a computer mouse when launching early pages on Amazon. Rufus died in 2009, and a building on the Amazon campus is named after him.

You can see more of the dogs of Amazon here.

1 day later, United screws the pooch again


A day after a passenger was instructed to put her dog in an overhead bin — an order that turned out to be fatal — United has screwed up again, this time accidentally sending a family’s dog to Japan instead of Kansas City.

Kara and Joseph Swindle, along with their children, were moving from Oregon to Wichita. But their German Shepherd, Irgo — traveling as cargo on an earlier flight — was mistakenly shipped to Japan.

When the Swindles arrived at the Kansas City cargo facility to pick up their dog, they were greeted instead by a Great Dane, who was supposed to have been the one loaded on the flight to Japan.

The airline originally told the Swindles that Irgo would have to stay in quarantine in Japan for two weeks, but apparently that was not required. The dog was scheduled to see a veterinarian before being put on a return flight to Wichita.

Kara Swindle told KCTV5 News that United didn’t know how the mistake happened, but she was told by the airline that the kennels were similar.

United Airlines paid for Swindle and her children to stay at a Marriott Hotel near the airport Tuesday night.

“At this point, all I can do is be hopeful that my dog is going to be okay and return safely,” she said. “I don’t know what else to do at this point. I can’t cry anymore. I’ve cried too much.”

The screw-up came on the heels of a far worse one, in which a United flight attendant told a family to put their dog and its carrier in the overhead bin.

“The flight attendant came, and she was like, ‘You have to put him up there because it’s going to block the path,'” Sophia Ceballos, 11, told ABC News on behalf of her mother, Catalina Robledo, who isn’t fluent in English.

The 10-month-old French Bulldog was discovered dead after the plane landed.

Sophia Ceballos said the flight attendant, after landing, said she didn’t know there was a dog in the bag.

“In the end, she says she didn’t know it was a dog, but she actually touched the bag and felt him there. She’s basically lying to us now,” Sophia said.

(Photos: Kara Swindle)

United Airlines kills another dog


United Airlines is admitting a flight attendant violated policy by insisting a passenger place her dog in an overhead bin during a flight from Houston to New York.

The dog was found dead in its carrier after the flight landed at LaGuardia Airport Monday night.

In a statement, United called the dog’s death a “tragic accident.”

Spokesman Charlie Hobart told CNN a flight attendant should not have told the passenger to put the dog in the bin used for carry-on bags.

“We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them,” the airline said Tuesday. “We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.”

The death occurred after a passenger brought the dog, identified as a 10-month-old French bulldog, on board in a TSA-approved pet carrier.

After the passenger took a seat, a United flight attendant insisted that the carrier — and dog — be stowed in an overhead bin, according to at least one witness.

Maggie Gremminger said the traveler with the dog protested the attendant’s order to put the pet carrier into the overhead bin, but that the attendant persisted.

Gremminger posted a photo of the grieving woman on Twitter (above) after the flight.

“The passenger adamantly refused but the flight attendant went on with the instruction,” Gremminger wrote. “At the end of the flight – the dog was found dead in the carrier. I am heart broken right now.”

united2United and other airlines generally allow pets to be carried on board provided they’re in carriers that can fit under the seat in front of the owner. Of all airlines, United has the worst pet safety record.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Transportation report, 24 animals died in the care of U.S. carriers last year. Three-quarters of those, 18, died while being handled by United. Of 15 reported injuries, 13 occurred with United.

The airline is the largest transporter of animals, carrying 138,178 animals in 2017. Alaska Airlines, which transported the next-highest number of animals (114,974), had an incident rate of 0.26, one-tenth of United’s industry-leading rate of 2.24 for every 10,000 animals transported.

Several of the animals had pre-existing health issues, the report said, and some incidents happened before the animals were put on planes.

A United spokeswoman said the airline has been in contact with the passenger who owned the dog and offered to pay for a necropsy.

(Photo: Maggie Gremminger/Twitter)

PETA disrupts best in show at Crufts

As a whippet named Tease was being crowned best in show at Crufts, protesters disrupted the prestigious UK dog show by running onto the field and unfurling a banner that read “Crufts: Canine Eugenics.”

The owner of Tease grabbed her dog, Crufts officials quickly secured the trophy even more protectively, and it was all over in less than a minute, after the two protesters were promptly tackled by security officers and whisked away, along with their banner.

The protest broke out just as Yvette Short of Edinburgh lifted her dog onto the podium as the event’s live feed broadcast across the globe.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) took responsibility for the incident.

“Crufts glorifies pedigree fetishists’ twisted pursuit of the ‘perfect’ dog,” Elisa Allen, PETA’s UK’s director, told the Independent on Sunday. “There’s nothing natural about breeding dogs with extreme and debilitating physical traits, and PETA urges everyone to stay away from this cruel beauty pageant.”

Many animal welfare groups take issue with the over-breeding of pedigree dogs to meet arbitrary physical standards and at the expense of health problems and physical ailments, but none with quite the zeal of PETA.

In 2008, the BBC stopped broadcasting Crufts after 40 years following public outcry over health concerns that were raised by a BBC One investigation called “Pedigree Dogs Exposed.”

The documentary focused on chronic health concerns that have resulted from breeders trying to attain physical standards The Kennel Club and breeders promulgate.

The Kennel Club, the organization behind Crufts, called the documentary “biased and selective,” but went on to revise some of the least healthy breeding standards it calls for.

Still, “canine eugenics” remains a pretty apt description of what dog shows are all about.

After Sunday’s demonstration, a Crufts spokesman said the protesters “scared the dogs and put the safety of both dogs and people at risk in a hugely irresponsible way.”

We’d suggest that the security response to the protesters looked far scarier than anything those two were doing, and that the Kennel Club, over its long history, has behaved more irresponsibly than a couple of PETA protesters ever could.