United Airlines Must Take Action After Giant Rabbit Dies on Flight

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for United Airlines, the company is facing blowback for yet another shocking incident: this time the death of Simon, a giant rabbit.

Simon, a Flemish giant rabbit, was already 3 feet long despite being just under one year old. He was being transferred from a breeder in the United Kingdom to a pet owner in Chicago via the United flight when he mysteriously died.

Now, the Care2 community is calling on United to make changes to its pet policies to prevent future animal passengers from suffering a similar fate. Join over 10,000 other animal lovers in signing this petition, which asks United to review and update is procedures.

Simon’s breeder, Annette Edwards, admits that she’s not sure who or what is responsible for the rabbit’s death at this point. However, she confirmed that she brought Simon to a veterinarian prior to the flight, who assured her that Simon was in good physical health and fit to travel.

National Geographic spoke to rabbit experts, who suspect either the stress of flying or the cold, noisy, pressurized conditions of an airplane cargo to be the culprit. It’s also feasible for Simon’s death to have occurred during the transfer between flights when his container could have been mishandled or left in cold conditions for too long.

United Airlines certainly should feel obligated to examine its responsibility in the death of Simon. United had one of the airline industry’s highest rates of both pet fatalities and pet injuries last year, clocking in at nine deaths and 14 injuries. Those numbers indicate that some animals may be mishandled by staff or improperly stowed in the plane’s cargo hold.

Simon was the son of Darius, the current Guinness world record holder for longest rabbit. Given his genes, it was possible that Simon could have matured to become even larger than Darius.

Responding to the incident, United Airlines released a prepared statement: “The safety and well being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team.”

It’s no secret that United Airlines cannot afford to suffer from any extra bad PR right now. In the past month, United has already made headlines twice for violently removing a passenger from an overbooked flight and not allowing two women wearing leggings to board a flight per the company’s dress code.

Accordingly, here’s an opportunity for the airline to show that it cares and is willing to make things right. We ask United to please listen to this Care2 petition and allow an independent animal welfare organization to review its pet policies. Human passengers should have the piece of mind that their animal companions will be alive and well when they land at their destination.

Photo credit: Damien McFadden

89 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

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Telica R
Telica R1 years ago

Sad

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rosario p
rosario p.1 years ago

I worked at the airport and it is so sad how many incidents with pets happen all days. There is no empathy and respect for the owners, and workers even make jokes when the families kids wept disconsolately the loss of their dog. He was put on an other flight and they did not know in WHICH. Others escape when are handled in transhipment. I am absolutely no breeding, but pets for adoption or with owners take airplanes too. If traveling with pets is offered like one service more it is the company which have to ASSURE the security and safety travel health conditions. Their compromise with living animals transport have to be more adequate and the need for strict control. Animals are not suitcases. It is their responsibility and they have to take it. Maybe a vet for transatlantic or long duration of flight with pets, monitored, could be a good idea. That is what is to be demanded, better infrastructure.

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rosario p
rosario p.1 years ago

American Airlines apologizes for incident with a passenger, a mom in tears with a little baby, for onboard clash over stroller. That happened in april too. -http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/22/us/american-airlines-video-confrontation-trnd/ - One after other.

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

More reasons not to fly United.

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Sad.

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M. M
M. M1 years ago

Not a good time for United Airlines... RIP Simon...

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David P
David P1 years ago

Sad.

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson1 years ago

Awful.

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Clare Newbury
Clare Newbury1 years ago

Simon is the 4th animal I have heard of dying in the cargo hold of a plane. If humans can't fly in cargo holds, animals should never be put there. At least a person could have the situation explained to them; animals can't understand what terrifying thing is being done to them. It is very cruel. I would never allow an animal in my care to be flown in a cargo compartment of a plane. NEVER!

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