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

For Immediate Release:
April 26, 2017

Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382


Below, please find a statement from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in response to the death of Simon, a rabbit who was being flown through Chicago on United Airlines:

This rabbit was failed first by the breeder—who churns out and sells baby bunnies when animal shelters and rescue groups are full of homeless rabbits—and then by United Airlines, which shipped him off in a cargo hold like an old suitcase. This rabbit’s death is not unique—more than 300 animals have died in cargo holds since 2005, and many more have been injured or lost. PETA urges United to join JetBlue and Southwest in prohibiting companion animals from being flown as checked baggage in the confusion, noise, extreme temperatures, and improper pressurization of a cargo hold.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way,” and PETA’s letter to United Airlines appears below.

April 26, 2017

Oscar Munoz

President and CEO

United Airlines

Dear Mr. Munoz,

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, I am writing in response to reports that Simon, a rabbit, died in the cargo hold of a United Airlines flight. Animals aren’t cargo. Dogs, cats, and other animals often sustain significant injuries or even die when they are tossed around in carriers and treated as such. Your company has already made the humane commitment not to transport nonhuman primates for use in laboratories, and now, we urge you to protect animals further by immediately banning their transport as checked baggage through your PetSafe program.

Since 2005, more than 300 animals have died on airplanes—including 74 on United Airlines, nine of them in the last year alone—and many more have been seriously injured or lost. United has the opportunity to join the ranks of airlines like JetBlue and Southwest Airlines, which have implemented companion animal–friendly travel policies to make the world a better place for the cats, dogs, rabbits, and other living beings who rely on us. Accidents happen, and at PETA, our files are full of cases in which beloved dogs and cats escaped onto the tarmac in a foreign land—many never to be seen again. Some freeze to death when climate-control systems fail, while others die of heat prostration on the tarmac during lengthy delays, hurt themselves while escaping from carriers, or are injured or killed when heavy items fall during extreme turbulence. Some who “make it” are visibly shaken for the rest of their lives.

Even in temperature-controlled, pressurized cabins, many human travelers suffer from ear pain, sinus pressure, and other discomforts as they travel, so you can imagine how a frightened animal feels all alone in a noisy cargo cabin 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 airlines.

By restricting companion animals from flying as checked baggage, you will be helping to ensure their safety while traveling. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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