Following the uproar over the death of a French bulldog named Kokito after it was forced into an overhead bin by a United Airlines flight attendant last week, a Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Marisol Alcantara from New York, said Sunday she planned to introduce a bill that will avoid any future mishaps involving pets in airplanes, New York Post reported.
According to Alcantara, the bill christened Kokito’s Law — named after the dead dog — will give pets traveling in planes the same rights as humans if the Senate passes it. The family of the puppy joined the senator as she announced the new passenger bill outside the LaGuardia Airport on Sunday.
“Make no bones about it, United is in the doghouse,” Alcantara said.
The bill will reportedly prevent pets from being hauled in overhead bins, demand that cargo areas are pressurized, ventilated, and climate controlled, and hold airlines to a number of other basic safety standards, Post reported.
United Airlines, which had the most number of pet deaths — 18 animals killed and 13 injured — compared to other airlines bore full responsibility for the death of 10-month-old Kokito.
Kokito died due to the negligence of the airline attendant, who, despite protest from the family, placed the puppy in the overhead bin. When the French bulldog whimpered in the cabin, the family was barred from checking on their pet due to turbulence.
“I feel devastated,” the puppy’s owner, Sophia Ceballos, said tearfully Sunday. “Every night I cry because it feels really empty without him in the house. He was really special. And I just think about him every day at school and I can’t concentrate.”
The flight attendant in the United Airlines plane bound for New York from Houston said she did not realize that there was a pet in the carrier when she shoved it into the overhead bin.
In a statement, United Airlines spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin, said, “This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them.”
The district attorney’s office in Queens said the officials were looking into the dog’s death.
“There needs to be accountability. Although United did, in fact, accept responsibility, they have yet to tell us the name of the flight attendant or provide any information as far as what’s going to happen with this flight attendant,” the family’s attorney, Evan Oshan, said. “We want justice. We want criminal prosecution and we want the right thing to be done.”
In another incident last week, the airline sent a dog to Japan who was bound for Kansas, meanwhile, the dog that was supposed to be in Japan ended up in Kansas. United Airlines has received a lot of flak for its ineptitude in handling affairs decisively without incident.
Following Kokito’s death, actress Olivia Munn told TMZ that she will never fly the airlines again.
“I’ll never fly United. If they can’t take care of all their passengers and the animals, I don’t think anyone should fly them,” she said.