United Airlines Nearly Kills Pet, Aims For Streisand Glory Instead Of Paying Vet Bill

from the bad-airline!--bad! dept

As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a Streisand effect. Wait, no, that's not right, but the point is that attempts at silencing speech resulting in an explosion of that speech are quite varied. From railing against parody Twitter accounts, to attempts to silence negative online reviews, to professional sports leagues trying to keep documentaries from going live, it seems we all have something to learn from Senorita Streisand and her icy wrath.

But few such lessons include puppies, such as this one that reader IAsimov alerts us to, in which United Airlines nearly killed an owner's beloved dog and agreed to pay her vet bills, but only if she signed a non-disclosure agreement. Janet Sinclair brought her pets, Sedona the greyhound and Alika the cat, on a cross-country trip using UA's "PetSafe" program, which makes several promises about how the animals will be treated and what type of conditions they'll be exposed to. It would appear, to put it mildly, that the airline failed to keep their promises.

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. 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."
Sedona, fortunately, did not die, and the dog was taken to a vet, who was able to bring the dog back to health. The bill for the vet's work was $2,700, for three days in intensive care to treat heat stroke. Her vet was quite clear in stating that the condition of the dog was not due to any preexisting conditions, despite what United Airlines originally claimed, and was solely the result of the dog's treatment during the flight. The airline offered to pay the bill...but only if Sinclair agreed not to tell anyone what good dog-killers they are. Sinclair declined.
"The only reason I’m doing this interview is because I didn’t sign that, and I won’t sign it," she said, referring to the nondisclosure agreement. "I still want to be reimbursed," she said. "But I’m not going to be quiet."
And now the story is going viral, because the combination of a massive company behaving this way and the inclusion of a dog suffering horrible conditions is the kind of thing internet outrage was made for. My guess? You will still have turkey leftovers in your fridge when UA agrees to pay the vet bill without an NDA. Too bad the damage will have already been done.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Nov 27th, 2013 @ 7:57pm

    Poppycock!

    What possible trouble could a large faceless corporation get into by mistreating dogs and/or kittens on the internet?

     

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    PuppyMama, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 8:14pm

    Where can I donate?

    Reading this - I broke down. Mom to a pup and kitten- this is inexcusable. Please let me know where to donate to Sedona's bills. If UA won't help, you have pet parents who will.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 8:16pm

    That poor dog. Worst vacation ever!

     

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    Nigel, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 8:58pm

    wow

    I caught this gem...

    "We offered to compensate Ms. Sinclair by fully reimbursing her vet bill, but unfortunately she declined to accept the terms of the agreement."

    I am curious what agreement UA is referring to.

     

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    Namel3ss (profile), Nov 27th, 2013 @ 9:18pm

    Isn't cruelty to animals a criminal offense?

     

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    vilain (profile), Nov 27th, 2013 @ 10:27pm

    Grounds for a class action

    From a contract point of view, United looks like they're in material breech of the terms of care they supposedly offered in their program. She's got documented video of the maltreatment. Either someone in legal is hoping this won't blow up in United's face (way to late for that, thanks Internet) or they'll go to court and ultimately settle.

    I hope this woman goes for class action status. There must be others to had pets who didn't make it or were maltreated by the Airline. Make them pay.

     

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      Jake, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 1:46am

      Re: Grounds for a class action

      To hell with a lawsuit, this is grounds for a criminal investigation on animal cruelty charges.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 2:26am

        Grounds for a class action (may contain snark)

        You're expecting the Federal Government to investigate animal cruelty that isn't run by gangs.

        This...is an issue. They have far more important things to do. Like stopping government from working, of course.

         

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          out_of_the_blue, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 11:52am

          "Like stopping government from working, of course."

          & propping up hollywood some more so they can sue more grandmas

           

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Nov 27th, 2013 @ 11:52pm

    A new song?

    United breaks guitars... and puppies.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 12:30am

    Gosh shocker

    All of which just goes to prove, I guess, that there are no depths of dumbness a megalithic corporation won't stoop to in order to "protect" their imagined good name and imagined profits...

    Aside from the (you'd have thought) obvious "We damn near killed the lady's dog, we probably ought to fix it without arguing" angle, you'd have thought that whatever PR or lawyer moron they had on this would have spotted the inevitably huge lawsuit coming down the road - I can't see a picture of a 1/2 dead dog in a crate under a plane warming a jury towards United, can you? Trying to make the lady happy now is almost certainly way cheaper.

     

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    Cpt. Feathersword, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 2:17am

    Let it never be forgotten that

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 2:23am

    The new motto for United Airlines?

    Fly With Us: We'll Kill Your Beloved Family Pet For Free

     

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    Mega1987 (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 3:15am

    ....Activists?

    Where are those Animal Rights Activists when you need them?

    I do really hope they pop out like the Spanish inquisition at that Airline company...

     

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    Donglebert the Needlessly Obtuse, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 3:35am

    What's also confusing

    is how the airline claims that it's not liable for these events. In that climate control is an advertised feature of this service one would presume that it is part of the contract. So why, in that they're therefore in breach of contract would they consider it viable to claim they're not liable? (dreadfully written, but enjoying the consonance there).

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 7:57am

      Re: What's also confusing

      . So why, in that they're therefore in breach of contract would they consider it viable to claim they're not liable?


      This is what they claimed:

      We are in receipt of the veterinary reports offered by the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital. We asked our consulting veterinarian to review the report so we could have a clear understanding of Sedona’s condition. The reports confirmed Sedona has a pre-existing medical condition which may have been aggravated during her air transportation.


      Well, if it HAD been true that the dog had preexisting conditions, they may not have been as liable for the vet bill (although there would still be SOME liability.) However:

      According to the vet that treated Sedona, she had a heat stroke, urinary tract infection and problems with the liver. The doctor’s report states, "We have no reason to believe that these medical problems were due to underlying disease, and we believe that these medical problems were secondary to hyperthermia that she suffered during her United Airlines flight."


      The woman also has a letter from her vet stating that there was no indication of any preexisting condition. So the airline is claiming that the dog had a preexisting condition despite that their vets haven't looked at the dog, and the vets who actually DID look at it said there wasn't one.

      So... based on that, the airline's case doesn't seem to hold much water.

       

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      Michael Price, Nov 30th, 2013 @ 2:57am

      Re: What's also confusing

      Why would the fact that they advertised A/C be a factor? They promised to transport the pet, not kill it. This is negligence. Any reasonable person would expect that transportation of pets includes not massively abusing them. It's implicit in the contract that you don't torture pets.

       

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    watson, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 6:04am

    is a big, fat, outrageous scam. A few months ago I happened to place an order for a 20 page paper through their website. With “transparent” writer reviews and “affordable” prices, I thought I was making the best choice available. I was wrong. (A bit of background information: I am a senior in college who wanted a sample paper to help me complete my comps). When I first saw website, it didn’t seem horrible. They promised low prices and their writers seemed American or at least fluent in the English language (stupid me thinking that their writers’ names were real). But what was advertised as $7.50 per page quickly spiraled into $25 and $30 per page. On top of that, I realized that if you didn’t buy from a pricey writer, your paper was going to be complete shit. Like illegible. Like an F. So after I placed my order with a writer named God-knows-what in real life, I sat and waited for my paper. I had written a draft of my paper already and was going to use this to ease the process. What I got was COMPLETE GARBAGE. The paper was formatted incorrectly, it didn’t reach the page limit I PAID FOR, and didn’t even address the topics I requested. I think assumes that students who use their service are complete idiots. Some may be. But I am not. I ordered a paper with them because I care about my grades (who doesn’t when paying 50K a year for school) and wanted to IMPROVE my dissertation. So, what did they do when I called to ask for a partial refund? They told ME that nothing could be done. That the terms and conditions I agreed too were set in stone and that it was my fault for having selected the writer that I did.

    Essentially they told me that they can take my money but not offer a shred of accountability when one of their employees fucks up. WOW. And then here’s the best part: when I called to speak with someone about giving a negative review of their service, they told me they would find out where I go to school and make sure I would always regret speaking poorly about them. Real professional. So, as an aspiring computer programmer, A REALLY PISSED OFF CUSTOMER, and someone who doesn’t give a flying fuck that these scam artists have my contact information, I created this website to inform students around the world that is a scam. I encourage fellow students who have been scammed by this company to give their reviews on as well. The more reviews the merrier.

     

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      Brazilian Guy, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 6:25am

      Wait, United Airlines is offering college essays?

      Wow, web 3.0 and services like google and amazon are really forcing traditional companies to evolve.

       

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      Rikuo (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 8:53am

      Re:

      This has what to do with the article? A college student admitting he hired the services of a third party to write his essays for him? I never went myself, but isn't that, ya know...cheating? After all, you're not demonstrating you've done the course work, that you understand the material.

       

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    Tony Brown, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 6:57am

    watson

    Watson,

    What you were doing was cheating -yourself, your college and your colleagues. You are probably in breach of your contract with your university. Be honest with yourself. Who is the scammer? You, or the third-rate writing service you hired on spec to prove you are not as dumb as you really are. And what this has to do with half-dead dogs I don't really know...

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 7:13am

    When you cheat on a college paper, you get exactly what you deserved. This lady and her pet didn't deserve the treatment they received.

     

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    Bob Wartell (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    United cares about customers

    After reading this article about pet and human mistreatment, I sent an email to United customer service telling them I will never fly United unless there is no alternative, and quoted the article. Their automated email reply told me that it usually takes 10 to 14 business days for them to respond to customer service requests. In a time-sensitive business. If they eventually respond, I'll post the response on this site.

     

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    madasahatter (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    unfriendly skies

    After several non-fatal runs with UA incompetence with family members or personally, I do not fly UA. Delta is another on my list to avoid because of the sleazy customer treatment. I am at point of considering Amtrak rather flying.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2013 @ 12:40am

      Re: unfriendly skies

      Yay railways!

       

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      pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 30th, 2013 @ 8:26pm

      Re: unfriendly skies

      UA specifically wants *only* business class customers. My cousin married a Kiwi, and on their annual trip their, even the steward/esses said so explicitly.

      They make no money on 'people' fares. Only biz class, so they go out of their way to impart that with service to match.

      My own experience flying to London from DC was the same. The English crew was nothing but proper, nice and downright welcoming. The American crew was hard pressed to care about even providing food on a multi-hour flight.

       

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    Frank Govan, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    who kicked the crate

    I sure hope that the person that kicked the crate and the people responsible for not doing there job(taking care of pets) have been dealt with..It is a crime to abuse animals...

     

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    gorehound (profile), Nov 28th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Usual kind of bullshit to expect from these rich Corporations.they think they can just do whatever they want.Fuck Off UA....I hope you lose your shirts from the flak storm you are going to see.Millions who would use you also love animals as much as me.
    I won't be going near UA....I so hate flying nowadays anyways but I will make the effort to Fly with another carrier when I got to see my 90 year old Dad.
    Dad also loves Animals and I bet he would be angry reading this story.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Unfortunately this seems to be the norm by UA concerning pets and nothing ever happens to them. There are many dozens of similar stories. The bottom line is it's animal abuse plain and simple and the employees doing it along with UA should be charged with animal abuse each and every time it happens. Anyone that ever has to fly with a pet should NEVER use UA no matter what.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 9:15pm

    [Meta] Site issues?

    Techdirt has been acting wonky all day. Some older articles (from 2010) render incorrectly, like the style sheets are missing (aren't the same ones used for both older and contemporary articles?); the site has been intermittently slow; and most of all, I cannot seem to view any of today's (Thursday) articles by refreshing the site's front page or any other means (for example, at this writing this article has a "previous" link but no "next" link when I load it). I suspect a stale cache on one of the load-balancers.

    This is an issue, since your analysis of and commentary on one of the more major Snowden leaks (if not THE biggest revelation yet), the NSA/CSEC snooping at a G20 summit in Toronto, is undoubtedly excellent and insightful but, sadly, is not accessible to me due to these damnable site problems.

    Please have your technicians look into the problem and fix it ASAP. Of all the times to get stuck staring at a stale cached image of the site, the day of a particularly big Snowden leak has to be among the worst possible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      That One Guy (profile), Nov 29th, 2013 @ 12:08am

      Re: [Meta] Site issues?

      No new articles on thursday due to the holiday, and if you're having problems with older articles, best way to bring it to their attention would be the 'Help and Feedback' link at the bottom of the page.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2013 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re: [Meta] Site issues?

        What holiday? It was just a random Thursday, according to my office calendar. Even according to the fact it was my office calendar I was looking at, and I was mildly concerned that if I spent too long writing it the boss would look over my shoulder and discover that I was goofing off. (Not that I was really wasting time, since I had to wait for a print job at the time anyway.)

        Same thing now, by the way (including waiting for a print job). Still the same stale view of the site, with an estimated 1-2 articles from late Wednesday and everything from Thu-Fri still not showing for me, and it's just a normal Friday.

        Meanwhile I still can't read whatever brilliant insights Mike Masnick has written re: the G20 snooping...so, back to twiddling my thumbs and watching a progress meter for me.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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          Rikuo (profile), Nov 29th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: [Meta] Site issues?

          I too was surprised at the fact there were no articles, but eventually I copped on that it was Thanksgiving in the USA. With Techdirt being based there, of course they'd not be working.
          As for your snarkiness about the site not working, just leave a message, saying "Yo, articles from 2010 not working, k thx!
          So before you want to leave criticism of the site, do a little bit of research before you leave evidence on a public page that you yourself are an asshole. As it is, that's simply what you left. No other way to interpret it.

           

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    bobby b, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 9:17pm

    It serves a different purpose . . .

    Well, to UA's credit, they have helped clarify to us how they feel about handling animals. Were I a pet owner, I'd want to know that before paying them to fly me somewhere.

    It's also entertaining to know that, if you complain to them about something, they send Laurel and Hardy out to thrash you.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2013 @ 4:04am

    The public at the mercy of profit hungry companies, if they want you to die, you die
    Yet about half of the US population votes for the party that supports this, or at least has no actual objections to it (lip service doesn't count)

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2013 @ 8:21am

      Re:

      Yet about half of the US population votes for the party that supports this, or at least has no actual objections to it

      You mean 100% votes for a party that supports this because there's no choice?

       

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        David, Nov 30th, 2013 @ 5:19am

        Re: Re:

        It's not 100% since the jury is out on those parties who never were in office.

        It's easy to forget, but elections in the U.S. are loosely based on numbers called "popular" vote, mostly in deference to something once known as "democracy". There is an elaborate process involving electoral votes, voter registration games, voting machine rigging, voting hours, gerrymandering and a few other things to make sure the hicks from the woods do not actually determine who rules over them. Part of that process happens before the "popular" vote, part of it afterwards.

        The result is a stable ruling class of inbred politicians with an outcrossing of money, though nowadays there is no noticeable distinction.

         

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      Michael Price, Nov 30th, 2013 @ 3:02am

      What are you talking about?

      What party supports this? It's already illegal and amazingly likely to get them sued. What's puzzling is why United thinks that this is a viable business strategy. They're really treating their customers like shit. The market will take care of this pretty quickly I should imagine. Unless some government idiot decides to bail them out.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    United Mistreats Pets

    Maybe she can get the "United Breaks Guitars" guy to write a new song for her and post it on YouTube.

     

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    vastrightwing, Nov 29th, 2013 @ 8:28am

    I got the message

    What I get out of this is: "see how we treated that dog? Well, you're not far behind."

    This foreshadows the way United will be/is treating its passengers! They don't give a ____!

    Yes, I got the message!

     

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    eyesoars, Nov 30th, 2013 @ 6:06pm

    Testing?

    I wonder that nobody has put a recording collar and shipped an animal. Friends in the semi industry have done this regularly for packages, finding that they're regularly dropped 6-8' at airports &c, so they know what their packaging has to take.

    A thermal recording collar would certainly provide proof of misfeasance and/or fraud. As the United Breaks Guitars/Sons of Maxwell folks showed, United only cares about the bottom line -- and foolishly ignores the realities of the modern connected/viral universe.

     

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      pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 30th, 2013 @ 10:02pm

      Re: Testing?

      probably because it's quite expensive to ship live 'cargo'. But it's a valid tactic that I'm sure will be used before long. Hard to argue with recorded temps in the 100sF when you promised AC accommodations.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 7:26pm

    As Sulu would say, oh my.

     

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    Dog Beds, Dec 9th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    Does this really surprise anyone? United Breaks Guitars... look it up on Youtube if you haven't seen the music video... Regardless, the airline will more than likely be paying the bill even if the dog owner refused to sign the non disclosure statement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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