Simon, a 3-foot rabbit who was destined to be one of the world's largest, mysteriously died on a United Airlines flight from London's Heathrow Airport to Chicago's O'Hare on April 25.
The 10-month-old rabbit was reportedly on his way across the ocean to go to his new owner and new home in Chicago. The cause of death is yet to be determined.
"Simon had a vet’s check-up three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle," Simon's handler and breeder Annette Edwards told The Sun newspaper. "Something very strange has happened and I want to know what...I’ve sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before.” Edwards also cares for Simon's father, the world's largest rabbit, Darius.
In a statement relased to petMD, United Airlines said: "We were saddened to hear this news. The safety and wellbeing of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team. We have been in contact with our customer and have offered assistance. We are reviewing this matter."
United describes PetSafe as a "specially designed program for transporting animals that are not eligible to travel in the aircraft cabin," and offers "airport-to-airport travel for animals."
Sadly, this is not the first time this year that United (which is already in a PR nightmare after violently removing a passenger from one of its flights) has faced this kind of accusation from a devastated pet parent.
Back in February, Kathleen Considine said her 7-year-old Golden Retriever named Jacob died after a United flight from Detroit to Portland.
In a Facebook post, Considine wrote that her dog, who had a veterinary physical the day before the flight, was treated "like baggage" by the airline and that her pet had not been given any food or water. The dog was non-responsive upon arrival, and died just a few hours later.
Both Jacob's and Simon's stories are tragic, but mercifully, they are not the norm when it comes to air travel for pets. In 2016, there were approximately 2.11 incidents for every 10,000 animals transported by United, according to an Air Travel Consumer Report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Image via Annette Edwards
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