Lawmakers on Thursday unveiled a new bill aimed at prohibiting airlines from placing animals into overhead compartment bins after the recent death of a ten-month old puppy sparked outrage on social media.
Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Cortez Mastro (D-NV) said the legislation would direct the Federal Aviation Administration to create new regulations that would prohibit airline crews from storing live animals in any overhead compartment. The legislation also provides authorities with the ability to impose civil penalties for any violations.
Kennedy called out United Airlines, demanding an "immediate explanation" about what happened to the French Bulldog who was forced into an overhead bin by a United flight attendant.
"For many people, pets are members of the family," Kennedy wrote in a letter sent to the president of United Airlines, J. Scott Kirby. "They should not be treated like insignificant cargo. Frankly, they shouldn't be placed in the cargo hold much less an overhead bin."
Kennedy tweeted he filed the bill Thursday that would prohibit airlines from placing animals in overhead bins.
Today, I introduced the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act, also known as WOOFF, w my colleague @SenCortezMasto. Our bill directs the @FAANews to create regulations to prohibit the storing of a live animal in any overhead compartment and establish civil fines for violations #WOOFF
Dog Dies After Being Forced into Overhead Bin On United Flight
United has apologized for the incident, saying they assumed "full responsibility" for the French Bulldog's death. They also said they've launched an investigation and that the flight attendant should have never told the passenger to put the dog in the bin usually used for carry-on bags.
A report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation last month showed that of the 24 animals that have died while riding on airlines, 18 did so while being handled by United. Of the 15 reported injuries to animals, 13 occurred while they were traveling with United.
"This pattern of animal deaths and injuries is simply inexcusable," Kennedy wrote. "I write to demand an immediate explanation for the number of animals who have died recently in United Airlines' care."