Though Catalina Robledo and her daughter, Sophia Ceballos, should have been able to store their dog underneath their seat in their TSA-compliant pet carrier on their flight from Houston to New York, a yet-to-be identified hostess stuffed the pooch into the unventilated storage compartment.
“My mom was like, ‘It's a dog, it's a dog,’” Sophia told WNBC on Tuesday night. “And (the flight attendant) said, ‘You have to put it up there.’”
Passenger Marie Gremminger described the incident as a "triggering moment where it didn't feel right" to NBC New York.
"(Another passenger and I) looked at each other and said, 'Did they just put the dog up there?'" Gremminger said.
The fight crew did nothing as the dog, a puppy named Kokito, barked and yelped throughout the journey.
“While we were flying, the dog started barking and barking and there was no flight attendants coming. We couldn't stand up because there was a lot of turbulence so we weren't allowed to," Ceballos, speaking on behalf of Robledo, told ABC 13.
When they finally landed, Robledo opened the overhead compartment and found Kokito had perished.
"She was saying, 'Kokito, Kokito wake up!'" Ceballos recalled her mother saying. Gremminger added that Robledo broke down and cried.
Differing accounts call into question whether the flight attendant realized that there was a dog in the overhead bin. According to Ceballos, they definitely did.
"She said, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know it was a dog. I thought it was a normal bag.' But we told her it was a dog, she's lying," Ceballos said.
The Chicago-based airline took responsibility for for the “tragic accident that should never have occurred," and offered to pay for an autopsy. Robledo's tickets and the $200 pet fee were refunded.
NY Daily News reports that a staggering 18 animals died in United's care in 2017, compared to the six killed among all other U.S. airlines.
It's United's second faux pas involving a dog to occur just this week. The airline mistakenly sent a Kansas family's German Shepherd to Japan on Tuesday.
That gaffe, along with Kikito's death, has caused an outrage among Twitter users. Some are comparing it to last year's incident in which a bloodied man was forcibly dragged from a United flight.
Not a good look, United.