Rabbit’s Death Prompts Appeal to United: No More Animals in Cargo Holds

Published by Zachary Toliver.

United Airlines—a company responsible for one-third of all animal deaths on U.S. flights in the last five years—is in the spotlight again after news broke that a giant rabbit had died during transport.

The rabbit, named Simon, was being flown through Chicago on United when he died while in the cargo section of a Boeing 767. According to the breeder responsible for shipping him, he was “fit as a fiddle,” as confirmed by a veterinarian checkup just three hours before he was loaded onto the plane.

No One Handling Simon Cared for His Life

Simon was failed first by the breeder—who churns out and sells baby bunnies, even though animal shelters and rescue groups have tons of homeless rabbits—and then by United, which shipped him off in a cargo hold like an old suitcase.

Simon’s death is not unique—more than 300 animals have died in cargo holds since 2005, including 74 on United flights. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the airline had the worst record of animal deaths and injuries among all U.S. airlines in 2016.

Even in temperature-controlled, pressurized cabins, many human travelers suffer from ear pain, sinus pressure, and other discomfort as they travel, so you can imagine how a frightened animal feels while all alone in a noisy cargo hold that can be very cold or hot and sometimes not properly pressurized. Airlines should do everything in their power to make sure that no more animals experience agonizing, needless deaths as a result of being transported on planes.

PETA urges United to join JetBlue and Southwest in prohibiting companion animals from being flown as checked baggage.

What You Can Do

Animals are not cargo. If you find yourself in the sky or on the road with your animal companion, here’s some helpful information for a smooth journey.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind