United Airlines responds to photo of dog on Houston tarmac

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A picture taken at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Sunday has gone viral. It shows a dog kennel sitting on a tarmac outside a plane in the rain.

Barbara Passmore posted the photo from the seat on her plane.

"We were delayed leaving the gate about an hour, which is at least how long the dog was out there," Passmore tells ABC-13.

Passmore says she pressed the assistance button and a flight attendant responded.

"He told me he'd 'let them know,'" Passmore said. "When after about 10 more minutes there was no attention to the dog (visible from my seat, at least), I tweeted my photo and shared it on Facebook."

The photo was then retweeted more than 1,500 times , starting a firestorm of comments aimed at United. The airline then responded on its Twitter account.

A spokesperson for United Airlines tells ABC-13 the situation was a great misunderstanding.

The spokesperson has a dedicated program for loading animals onto planes called PetSafe. United issued the following statement to ABC-13:
    We checked several cameras and confirmed the pet was fully under the watchful eye of our ramp employees after our PetSafe employees dropped the kennel off when we were ready to begin loading the aircraft for departure. As is our standard practice, employees placed the pet kennel completely under the wing to protect the pet from the falling rain. Ramp workers then placed the kennel onto the aircraft after loading baggage so that the kennel could be retrieved first when the flight arrived.

Passmore said, "It was definitely not under the wing."

United tells ABC-13 the kennel was dry, the animal was not in the rain, and the dog ultimately made it to its destination safely.

Passmore says her intention wasn't to instigate a news story, but to help that particular dog.

"I don't think my posting the image made a difference to the dog, but perhaps future dogs will receive better treatment from airlines as a result of this public outcry," Passmore said.
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