Days after news broke that a United Airlines passenger's dog died after being forced to be stored in a plane's overhead compartment, TMZ has reported that the airline company could be mandated to pay more than $25,000 in punitive damages for animal abuse as a result of the incident.

The canine, a French bulldog named Kokito, was 10 months old and was traveling with family from Houston to New York City (LaGuardia Airport). Sophia Cabellos, daughter of dog owner Catalina Robledo who was traveling with Cabellos and a newborn sibling at the time of the incident, told News 4 New York a flight attendant insisted the dog be stored overhead in its carrier so that the dog would not bark on the plane despite the family being concerned about the well-being of the dog. Robledo argued with the flight attendant, News 4 reported, but ultimately complied.

Other passengers posted on social media about the incident, including that they heard the dog let out a few barks before becoming silent. When the plane landed and Robledo opened the compartment, the dog was dead. News 4 reported that the family was offered money to keep the situation quiet and that their plane tickets and the $200 fee for bringing the dog onboard were refunded.

According to TMZ, an Illinois judge could order more than $25,000 be paid to the dog owner solely based on whether the flight attendant who ordered the dog be placed in the overhead compartment neglected or abused the animal, in addition to other damages for "emotional distress" and the cost of the animal.

"A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times," United's in-cabin pet policy states. The policy does not state that kennels should be stored in overhead compartments.


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