United Airlines re-routes plane in third dog-related accident in a week

United Airlines re-routes plane in third dog-related accident in a week.
Photo credit: Kentaro Iemoto

A United Airlines flight was re-routed after the US airline discovered it had mistakenly brought a dog onboard.

It's the third headline-grabbing incident involving a canine for the company in just a week, after a puppy died in an overhead bin and another dog was accidentally sent to Japan instead of Kansas.

The dog was put on flight United Flight 3996 in error. The flight left Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday (local time) for St Louis, Missouri, but was diverted instead to the dog's correct destination of Akron, Ohio.

The airline "chose the fastest option to reunite the dog with his family", according to spokesperson Natalie Noonan.

She confirmed that the human passengers were provided compensation for the inconvenience, but would not say how many there were.

CNN reported that at least 33 passengers were on the flight.

Prioritising the dog's itinerary over those of the other passengers comes as United faces fallout from its earlier fatal puppy mistake.

Both the US Department of Transportation and a Texas district attorney's office are reportedly looking into the death, with the possibility the matter could escalate into fines or animal cruelty charges.

John Kennedy, a Republican senator from Louisiana, is also demanding an explanation from United on its high rates of animal deaths in transit.

Eighteen of the 24 animal deaths on major US air carriers in 2017 occurred on United flights.