Breeder claims United cremated rabbit, while United denies wrongdoing in animal’s care.
The breeder of a Continental Giant rabbit that died while being transported aboard a United Airlines flight claims that the carrier secretly had the animal cremated in order to prevent a cause of death determination. The latest allegations in the matter come from breeder Annette Edwards, who spoke to Britain’s The Sun over the ordeal.
“The whole thing stinks of a coverup,” the breeder told the British tabloid. “I had been asking United over and over again for his body so I can have him examined here in Britain, but they never got back to me.”
According to Edwards, the airline said they could not return the animal, because the body was destroyed on Friday, April 28. The breeder hoped to have the rabbit’s remains returned so that a necropsy could be performed, in order to determine the cause of death.
United is backing their claims that their teams have done nothing wrong in the handling of Simon, the ten-month-old rabbit who was to be paired with a new owner in the United States. In a statement, the airline detailed the rabbit’s care to the New York Post, up to the moments in which they say the large lagomorph passed away.
“[Simon] arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport in apparent good condition at 10:25 am (local time). He was seen by a representative of the kennel facility moving about within his crate about 11:00am,” the airline said in their statement. “Shortly thereafter, a kennel representative noticed Simon was motionless and determined that he passed away.”
The airline denies claims that the rabbit was kept overnight in a freezer while alive, contradicting previous claims from anonymous sources that the animal was mishandled. Spokespersons for the carrier did not address allegations that the rabbit was cremated.
These exchanged claims comes shortly after United issued a new set of rules to ensure passenger rights, including a $1,500 no-questions-asked policy on lost luggage. When handling the situation, airline chief executive Oscar Munoz received flak from the community for comparing the deceased animal to a lost bag.