Harris Co. Animal Cruelty Task Force investigating dog death on United Airlines

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Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force investigating dog death on United Airlines. (KTRK)

The Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force is investigating the death of a dog on a recent flight from Houston.

The District Attorney's Office told Eyewitness News they could file charges based on the findings of the investigation

The animal's death also prompted U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) to send a letter to United's president demanding an investigation into all animal deaths and injuries with the airline, writing in part, "18 of the 24 animals who died in major US airlines' care last year were in the care of United."

In comparison, he says Delta and American each reported two animal deaths.

The French bulldog, Kokito, died while in-flight aboard United Airlines flight 1284 from Houston to New York City on Tuesday.

The beloved pet was found dead after the family says a flight attendant demanded he be placed in the overhead cabin, for a three-hour flight.

RELATED: United says flight attendant 'did not knowingly place' dog in overhead bin
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A mother and daughter are heartbroken after they say their dog died on a United flight from Houston to New York.

Kokito's family says he was in a pet-carrier bag and they paid the $125 pet fee, but were told to move the bag because it didn't fit by their feet.

"And then the flight attendant came, she said you have to put him up there because it's going to block the path," said 11-year-old Sophia Ceballos.

Ceballos says they listened as the dog barked during the first part of the trip, but were unable to check on him because of turbulence.

They found out he had died when they landed.

She explained how her mother pulled the luggage down and opened the bag to make the discovery.

"She's like he died, he died. Kokito, Kokito and he didn't wake up," she said.

United sent a statement to Eyewitness News saying in part, "the customer did tell the flight attendant that there was a dog in the carrier. However, our flight attendant did not hear or understand her, and did not knowingly place the dog in the overhead bin."

The family disagrees saying they told the attendant there was a dog in the bag.

"In the end she said that she didn't know it was a dog but she actually touched the bag and felt him there, she was basically lying to us," said Ceballos.

The airline offered to reimburse the family for their tickets and the pet fee along with offering to pay for a necropsy.

"You can't obviously refund the value of having a pet and a dog and it's someone who is part of the family," said Sayali Ketker, a passenger onboard a different United flight.

United Airlines says they will now implement a new system placing bright colored tags on all luggage carrying pets.

The change will take effect by April.
Related Topics:
United Airlinesdogsanimal crueltyHouston
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