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Tearful 11-year-old speaks about her dog’s death on United flight

The family of the French bulldog puppy that died after it suffocated on a United Airlines flight have described the horrifying moment they discovered their beloved canine companion’s lifeless body.

Eleven-year-old Sophia Ceballos and her mother, Catalina Robledo, said they were told by a United flight attendant to put their 10-month-old pup, Kokito, in the overhead bin before their flight from Houston on Monday. 

But when they landed, they discovered Kokito had died.

‘He was a really special dog. It’s just sad the way he has to, just leave,’ Sophia told CBS. 

Tearful Sophia Ceballos (right) said her French bulldog, Kokito, ‘was a really special dog’. The sweet pooch died after it suffocated inside an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight. Sophia is pictured with her mother Catalina Robledo 

Robledo (right) said she struggled to put Kokito's carrier under the seat in front of her. That's when a flight attendant allegedly insisted the dog be placed in the overhead bin

Robledo (right) said she struggled to put Kokito’s carrier under the seat in front of her. That’s when a flight attendant allegedly insisted the dog be placed in the overhead bin

'It's a dog, it's a dog. He can't breathe up there,' Sophia (pictured with Kokito) recalled telling the attendant

Sophia and Kokito

‘It’s a dog, it’s a dog. He can’t breathe up there,’ Sophia (left and right with Kokito) recalled telling the attendant

A ten-month-old French Bulldog puppy has died after a United Airlines flight attendant reportedly told the dog's owner to put it in the overhead compartment (pictured) 

 ‘And she said, “It doesn’t matter, it still goes up there”…. She felt the dog and she put him up there,’ Sophia said. She and her mother found their beloved Kokito dead three hours later when they landed in New York 

Robledo said she struggled to put Kokito’s carrier under the seat in front of her. 

That’s when a flight attendant allegedly insisted the dog be placed in the overhead bin.  

‘It’s a dog, it’s a dog. He can’t breathe up there,’ Sophia recalled telling the attendant. 

‘And she said, “It doesn’t matter, it still goes up there”…. She felt the dog and she put him up there,’ Sophia added.

According to CBS, the flight attendant is ‘distraught’ and claims she didn’t know there was a dog in the carrier, but Sophia said they made sure to tell the woman. 

The family said Kokito barked for two hours of their three-hour flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. 

Then he stopped. 

Sophia said she and her mother wanted to check on the sweet pooch, but they ‘weren’t allowed to stand up’ due to the turbulence. 

When they finally landed, Kokito had tragically passed away. 

Sophia and her mother made the discovery as fellow passenger, June Lara, looked on. 

Kokito's owners said they hope others learn from this tragic death

Kokito’s owners said they hope others learn from this tragic death

According to the American Kennel Club, like all flat-faced breeds, Frenchies are prone to breathing problems and do poorly in hot or humid weather. Frenchies also stress easily, increasing their need to breathe. Pictured is Kokito 

According to the American Kennel Club, like all flat-faced breeds, Frenchies are prone to breathing problems and do poorly in hot or humid weather. Frenchies also stress easily, increasing their need to breathe. Pictured is Kokito 

There's no circulation at all in the overhead bins on passenger jets and are dangerous for any live animal. Pictured is Kokito 

There’s no circulation at all in the overhead bins on passenger jets and are dangerous for any live animal. Pictured is Kokito 

Lara, who sat behind the owner on the flight, recalled the entire incident on Facebook.

He said that a member of the flight crew said the animal should go in the overhead bins.  

‘The flight attendants of flight UA1284 felt that the innocent animal was better off crammed inside the overhead container without air and water,’ he wrote on Facebook.

‘They INSISTED that the puppy be locked up for three hours without any kind of airflow. They assured the safety of the family’s pet so wearily, the mother agreed.’

Lara said that when the plane eventually landed three hours later and the owner, who was with her two young children, opened the overhead luggage, the dog was dead.

‘There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel,’ he wrote. ‘I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10 month old puppy. 

‘I cried with them three minutes later as she sobbed over his lifeless body. My heart broke with theirs as I realized he was gone.’

The family (pictured at the airport) said Kokito barked for two hours of their three-hour flight to New York's LaGuardia Airport

The family (pictured at the airport) said Kokito barked for two hours of their three-hour flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport

Robledo had brought her puppy in a carrier, according to United rules, and should have been placed under her seat

Robledo had brought her puppy in a carrier, according to United rules, and should have been placed under her seat

Passenger June Lara described the horrifying ordeal on his Facebook page 

Passenger June Lara described the horrifying ordeal on his Facebook page 

‘This poor family paid $125 for their pet to be murdered in front of them. There is no excuse for the pain this family is suffering.’

Fellow passenger, MaggieGremminger, who also witnessed the incident, said she was ‘disgusted and traumatized’ by the dog’s death.

‘How could a trained flight attendant instruct a passenger to place her dog in that bin. It was her job to understand the plane and it’s rules/limitations.’

United Airlines say they are now investigating the animal’s death and have apologized for the ‘accident’.

They confirmed the puppy, which can cost upwards of $1,000, should never have been placed in the overhead bins.

‘This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,’ United stated.

‘We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.’

The airline’s policy states that all animals traveling inside the cabin should be in a carrier and ‘fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times’.  

Kokito’s owners said they hope others learn from this death. 

According to the American Kennel Club, like all flat-faced breeds, Frenchies are prone to breathing problems and do poorly in hot or humid weather.

Frenchies also stress easily, increasing their need to breathe. 

There’s no circulation at all in the overhead bins on passenger jets and are dangerous for any live animal. 

United Airlines said they are now investigating the animal's death and have apologized for the 'accident' (file image)

United Airlines said they are now investigating the animal’s death and have apologized for the ‘accident’ (file image)

UNITED AIR’S DISASTROUS YEAR

April 2017 – doctor dragging 

Three airport security officers at Chicago´s O`Hare International Airport viciously dragged Dr. David Dao on a flight to Louisville, Kentucky.

The violent incident was captured on cell phone camera by passengers on the United Express Flight 3411 to Louisville.

The graphic footage went viral and showed Dr. Dao’s bloodied face after the officers dragged him down the aisle, dropped his head on an arm rest, leaving him with a concussion, a broken nose and two missing teeth.

Ultimately, the airline was not punished over the incident that sparked national outrage.

The US Department of Transportation said it found no evidence that the airline violated the civil rights of the 69-year-old old and there was not enough evidence confirming it violated rules of bumping passengers off overcrowded planes.

April 2017 – bunny death

United sparked controversy that same month after Simon, a ten-month-old 3ft continental giant rabbit, died on one of its planes.

The ‘fit and healthy’ giant rabbit was expected to outgrow the world’s biggest rabbit, died in cargo hold of a United Airlines flight from Heathrow Airport to Chicago on April 19, its owner, Annette Edwards, said.

The rabbit died on the plane after it was accidentally shut in a freezer by bungling staff.

A mystery US celebrity buyer paid more than £2,000 to fly him from Heathrow to Chicago at the time.

According to a USA Today report, United Airlines accounted for one third of animal deaths in the United States over the course of five years.

The Transportation Department’s Air Travel Consumer Report reports ‘United had 53 animals die on its flights from January 2012 through February 2017.’ 

This is in comparison to the ‘total of 136 animals that died on all flights of airlines’.

The recent slew of onboard airline deaths of the animals do not necessarily mean United was responsible, as some were from natural causes.

June 2017 – toddler’s seat

On June 29, A Hawaii woman was forced to hold her 27-month-old son on her lap after a flight attendant gave her seat to another passenger.

Shirley Yamauchi  said she purchased the airline tickets to Boston three months before the incident, Hawaii News Now reported.

Her son, over the age of two, was required to sit in his own seat on the plane. Yamauchi bought her son, Taizo’s ticket for nearly $1,000 before it was given up.

United Airlines issued an apology over the incident a few days after after the woman’s story went viral. 

 January 2018 – no toilets

On January 14, United Airlines Flight 1219 intended to be a direct flight from Denver, Colorado to Kauai, Hawaii, was diverted to San Francisco because the toilets had not been serviced.

About five hours into the trip, the pilot announced the flight would be diverted to California.

When the plane finally landed in San Francisco, passengers got aboard another plane.

The flight, intended to last roughly eight hours, ended up being a 16 hour ride.

Passenger Rich Anderson told Fox 31 that ‘everyone was disgusted’ and he was headed to Hawaii to celebrate his anniversary with his wife Kristin at the inconvenient time.

He told the outlet they were halfway over the Pacific Ocean when the announcement was made.

January 2018 – feces vandalization 

A United Air flight from from Chicago to Hong Kong was diverted to Alaska after a man vandalized two airplane bathrooms with his own feces.

‘We received a report of a passenger who had messed up the bathrooms with his own feces,’ Anchorage Airport Police Lieutenant Joe Gamache said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The man, who had a Vietnamese passport and held U.S. residency, was escorted off the plane and questioned by police after. 

The individual was not charged, but sent to a mental hospital for evaluation after. No injuries were reported. 

 



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