By now you have probably heard of this outrageous story where a family was forced to put their tiny little dog, who as  in a TSA approved carrier, in the overhead compartment for the duration of the flight. This poor little puppy was forced to endure a limited air supply and total darkness as it slowly died.

I can only imagine the pain and suffering that little puppy endured as it cried out to its family for the help it was sure would come. I can only imagine its suffering as locked away in the darkness, deprived of air and water, it pleaded for the air he so desperately needed.

As a loving pet owner who would be furious if this had happened to my Happy and as one who still mourns the death of a beloved four pawed family member do to illness, I can only imagine the mixture of sorrow and anger that family must have felt when they carried that limp body off the plane. I To this day I know how painful a memory it is for my Father as he thinks of that horrible day we had to let the vet put our beloved Natasha to sleep. She was at least 13 years old, a fairly good age for her breed, and was suffering from organ failure. Yet even though she had reached the point that she could not walk or eat, and her breathing was becoming increasingly more difficult, the decision to put her to rest was one we hated to make.

For my Father the call was the hardest, because for Tasha’s sake, he remained in the room. Holding her in his arms as the vet put the needle in her trusting paw and hugging her close as she breathed her last. His was the last face she saw, as before she breathed her last, she took one last look into the face of one she loved.

Yet as hard as that decision was, at least we could take comfort that we were giving Tasha a more peaceful end instead of watching her slowly die of suffocation or starve to death. We knew that as much as we hoped with all of our hearts that our beloved Tasha would return to her happy, active self, there was no hope that this would come to pass. To wait was only to extend her suffering, and with the weekend approaching it would mean the possibility that she would be forced to endure a prolonged and painful end.

Unlike this devastated family who had carried on a happy, healthy little pup whose life was before him,  we could take comfort that all that could be done, had been done for our best friend and beloved family member. While nothing could be done to save our Natasha, this death was needless. The death of this little puppy was totally preventable. It not only did not need to happen, but it never should have happened.

The thoughtlessness on the part of the United Arline staff is impossible to put into words. Whether it was due to carelessness, lack of training, or complete incompetence it does not matter.  How anyone could think that it was a wise course of action to put a life, any life, in a small, airless compartment, and believe that anything good could come of it is beyond understanding. And it seems to me that not only does United Airlines need to get their act together and offer better training as well as enact strict guidelines that protect the safety of both four legged and two legged passengers so that nothing like this will ever happen again, but it also needs to do more than refund this ill served family the price of their ticket.

Also we, as pet lovers and  the consumers whose business keeps places like Unite Airlines alive, need to stand up and say, enough is enough. We respectfully declare with our feet and our dollars that we will not put up with this careless attitude that puts the health and life of our family (human and animal) at risk. We need to let them know that we are ready and willing to vote with our dollars to promote airlines that care for the needs and safety of us and for that of our extended four legged family members. When we speak with our dollars by choosing the most animal friendly option and when possible opting to drive instead of fly, business like United will at last have to take notice as they realize that we are willing not only to speak up for our helpless family members, but are also willing to change our spending habits in order to protect the ones we love.