Update, 10:10 a.m. March 15:
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, has filed a bill that would direct the administrator from the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with regulations barring the storing of animals in planes' overhead bins within a year.
The bill, dubbed the Welfare Of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act also directs the FAA to establish stiff civil fines when the regulations are violated.
“Pets are members of the family. Unfortunately, for our pets, they are at the mercy of human beings showing some common sense,” Kennedy said in a statement Thursday. “United Airlines is promising to put special tags on pet carriers to help flight attendants in the future. I’d rather make it the law that animals aren’t to be treated like an old piece of luggage.”
The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada.
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is seeking answers from the head of an airline that has come under fire this week because a dog died after a flight attendant ordered its owner to put the animal in the plane's overhead bin.
"I write to demand an immediate explanation for the number of animals who have died recently in United Airlines' care," Kennedy wrote in the letter to United Airlines President J. Scott Kirby on Wednesday. "This pattern of animal deaths and injuries is simply inexcusable."
Kennedy, R-Madisonville, also is planning to file legislation that would prohibit airlines from placing animals in overhead bins. Those that do would face hefty fines.
I will be filing a bill tomorrow that will prohibit airlines from putting animals in overhead bins. Violators will face significant fines. Pets are family.— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) March 14, 2018
According to the Associated Press, United has said that it takes full responsibility for the incident that took place on a flight from Houston to New York on Monday.
The airline released a statement calling the dog's death "a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin."
The dog was in a small pet carrier.
The AP reported that 18 animals died while being transported on United last year, and Kennedy noted in his letter that 13 additional animals in United’s care suffered injuries.
Meanwhile, there were only six cases on all other U.S. carriers combined, according to Department of Transportation figures.
"For many people, pets are members of the family. They should not be treated like insignificant cargo," Kennedy wrote in his letter, which was also released to the media.