United Airlines CEO answers lawmakers on passenger dragging incident

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It cites U.S. Department of Transportation data that shows 35 animals died in the course of air transport in 2015.

The 90-cm-long bunny, called Simon, was found dead in the cargo hold when the flight arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport from London's Heathrow. Two geckos were found dead upon arriving at Raleigh-Durham airport on January 12, but no medical exam was performed.

Bryan Bergdale of West Des Moines had driven last Thursday to Kansas City to pick up Simon, a 10-month-old, 3-foot continental rabbit, when he received a call from United Airlines. The largest rabbit on record, as noted by the Guinness World Records, is Simon's father, a 4-foot-4-inch and 50-pound animal named Darius.

Simon was a Continental Giant specifically bred for his enormous size.

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"Travel can be stressful for animals", Hobart said, adding that the carrier has plenty of tips for those who do decide to ship their animals. "Something very odd has happened and I want to know what", says Annette Edwards. "I've sent rabbits all around the world and nothing like this has happened before".

Before the journey to the United States, Edwards said the rabbit was checked by a veterinarian who gave the animal a clean bill of health.

Unfortunately, it's not such a rare occurrence. Animals dying on planes is rare with many airlines carrying tens of thousands of animals a year, but what are the perils of travelling with pets? United reported nine deaths and 14 injuries, the highest figures for each category among us carriers.

United didn't have the worst statistics when compared with how many animals it was transporting during the last couple of years.

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"The changes are the result of United's thorough examination of its policies and procedures, and commitment to take action, in the wake of the forced removal of a customer aboard United Express Flight 3411 on April 9", the statement on the airline's website read.

But according to The Sun, the airline said it is saddened to hear the news. "The safety and well-being of all the animals that travel with us is of the utmost importance to United Airlines and our PetSafe team", the airline told the BBC. This is a turning point for all of us at United and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline. "We are reviewing this matter", the airline said. United Airlines now faces legal claims from both Edwards and Simon's new owner, who never got his giant bunny.

However, Edwards told NBC News that the airline has not been in contact with her. For now, it remains unclear just when the rabbit died or why.

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