Barbara Passmore had boarded a United Airlines flight at Bush Intercontinental Airport, and was waiting for takeoff when she saw something unsettling outside the window. Sitting on the tarmac was a dog kennel getting rained on. She took a picture.
Speaking to ABC-13, Passmore said, "We were delayed leaving the gate about an hour, which is at least how long the dog was out there."
She stated that she pressed the assistance button and she told the flight attendant about the crate.
"He told me he'd 'let them know.' When after about 10 more minutes there was no attention to the dog (visible from my seat, at least), I tweeted my photo and shared it on Facebook," she said.
The picture quickly went viral, and garnered more than 1,500 retweets. The comments came pouring in, and most of the social media users directed their outrage at United Airlines. The airline took to its official Twitter page to respond to the backlash.
A United Airlines spokesperson maintained that it was all a huge misunderstanding. The airline stated that it has a dedicated program called PetSafe, created for loading animals onto the planes.
In a statement issued to ABC-13, the airline stated:
“We checked several cameras and confirmed the pet was fully under the watchful eye of our ramp employees after our PetSafe employees dropped the kennel off when we were ready to begin loading the aircraft for departure. As is our standard practice, employees placed the pet kennel completely under the wing to protect the pet from the falling rain. Ramp workers then placed the kennel onto the aircraft after loading baggage so that the kennel could be retrieved first when the flight arrived.”
However, Passmore maintained that; "It was definitely not under the wing."
Sticking by their statement, United Airlines stated that the animal was not in the rain, and that the kennel was dry. The airline confirmed that the dog had been delivered to its destination safely.
Passmore stated that she did not mean to instigate a news story, but that her intention was to help the dog.
She said, "I don't think my posting the image made a difference to the dog, but perhaps future dogs will receive better treatment from airlines as a result of this public outcry."