United Airlines suspends pet cargo bookings after complaints of pet deaths

March 20, 2018

by Patricia Garrett

United Airlines is suspending its PetSafe reservations of pets for the airplane cargo area until May 1, 2018, as the company undergoes an internal review of  its procedures for pets traveling on United flights. PetSafe reservations that were made before March 20, 2018 will still be honored, but passengers have the right to cancel their PetSafe reservations during this review process. The suspension applies to the cargo area of United flights, not the passenger cabin, where pet reservations will still be taken.

United has not yet announced what it will do about PetSafe cargo reservations after May 1, 2018, presumably because the company is waiting for the results of the internal review before announcing any possible changes to its PetSafe system.

United has come under massive backlash for the death of a 10-month-old French bulldog named Kokito, which died after being placed in a overhead compartment on a  United flight from Houston to New York City that took place on March 12, 2018. The dog’s owners (Catlina Robledo and her 11-year-old daughter Sophia Ceballos) said that a flight attendant forced them to put the dog (which was in a carrier bag) in the overhead bin, even though the owners protested and told the flight attendant numerous times that a dog was in the bag. The owners also claimed that the dog barked several times during the trip, but the flight attended claimed that she was unaware that there was a dog in the bag. United called the incident a “tragic mistake” and issued an apology and a full refund. There have also been numerous protests and calls for boycotting United after this incident happened.

According to the New York Times,  U.S. Senators John Kennedy of Louisiana and Catherine Cortez Masto introduced a bill on March 15, 2018, called WOOFF (Welfare of Our Furry Friends) to prohibit airlines from storing pets in overhead compartments. United Airlines, which already has a policy to prohibit pets from being put in overhead compartments, has said that in April 2018, United will begin issuing brightly colored bag tags to passengers who have pets in the passenger cabin.

The death of Kokito sparked further scrutiny of United’s track record for how pets are treated on its flights, particularly in United’s cargo area, where pet owners are unable to check on the welfare of their pets during the flight. Since Kokito’s death, there have been multiple incidents reported of pets being flown to the wrong destinations on United flights. And according to the Wall Street Journal, 18 pets died while flying in United’s cargo section in 2017, which was twice the number of pet deaths that United reported in 2016. United claims that almost all the deaths were for medical reasons outside the airline’s control. United is the largest carrier of animals among U.S. airlines, accounting for “almost a quarter of the animals transported in cargo holds and in cabins” in 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The backlash against United Airlines over its treatment of pets is the latest public-relations fiasco for the company. In 2017, the United also faced a firestorm of negative publicity for the physical assault of passenger David Dao, who was forcibly removed by security personnel after he refused to voluntarily leave an overbooked flight. Video footage went viral of a bloodied Dao being dragged off the plane during the altercation. United made multiple apologies and reached an out-of-court settlement with Dao for an undisclosed sum.

Netflix does a remake of the classic family dog film ‘Benji’

March 6, 2018

"Benji" (Photo courtesy of Netflix"
“Benji” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix’s remake of the classic film “Benji” premieres on March 16, 2018. Here are details from Netflix:

More than 40 years after becoming one of the most beloved dogs in cinematic history, Benji is back to inspire a new generation. Written and directed by ​Brandon Camp, ​”Benji” blends action, drama, humor, and sweetness into a heartwarming tale for the whole family.

“Benji” will become available exclusively to Netflix members worldwide on ​Friday, March 16, 2018​, at 12:01 a.m. PST. Produced by Emmy Award®-winning and Oscar®-nominated producer ​Jason Blum​ (​”Get Out ,” ​”The Normal Heart,” ​”Whiplash”), it stars ​Kiele Sanchez​, ​Gabriel Bateman​, ​Darby Camp​, ​Will Rothhaar​, Angus Sampson​, and ​Gralen Bryant Banks​.   “Family-oriented movies that make you feel good are always powerful, but I think particularly when the world looks like it looks today, they’re especially powerful,” Blum says. “I think the timing is very good in terms of introducing a new Benji to the world.”

Camp is uniquely qualified to bring back the lovable mutt: His father, ​Joe Camp​, wrote and directed the 1974 film and its sequels. “I literally was born into ​Benji,” Brandon says with a laugh. (He’s not exaggerating: His mother, producer ​Carolyn Camp​, nearly gave birth to him on the set of the original.)   He adds: “I thought one of the reasons ​”Benji” was so successful in the first place was because it wasn’t loud or trying to be something that it wasn’t; it was a simple story about a little dog with all the heart in the world. I wanted to retell that same story for modern audiences.”

Set in the heart of New Orleans, Netflix’s “​Benji” tells the story of a homeless, unwanted mutt who befriends two adoring kids – and then does all he can to protect them.   Shortly after young Carter (​played by Gabriel Bateman​) spots Benji on the street after school one day, he forges a special bond with the shaggy friend. He and his sister, Frankie (​Darby Camp​), beg their mother (​played by Kiele Sanchez​) to let Benji join the family, but the last thing the struggling single mom needs is another mouth to feed.   “The plot thickens when, unfortunately, Benji is cast out on the street, and our two kids find themselves in jeopardy,” Camp says. “Despite the fact that Benji is homeless and it looks like things might not work out with Carter and Frankie, he still does everything in his power to make sure that those kids are safe at the end of the day.”

After a robbery goes wrong, two criminals (​played by Will Rothhaar​ and ​Angus Sampson​) wind up taking the kids far from home. Little do they know that the police — and Benji — are on their trail.

“Really, the movie is about perseverance, following your heart, and never, ever giving up,” adds Camp. “That was evident in the first movie, and I wanted to bring those simple values back into live-action movie-making in a way that we just haven’t seen, frankly, since the original.”


DOGTV premieres ‘The Adoption Show’ showcasing adoptable rescue dogs

June 8, 2017

DOGTV's "The Adoption Show"


The following is a press release from DOGTV:

DOGTV, the world’s first and only television network created specifically for dogs, is airing a new show for human viewers, aiming to help dogs in need. The DOGTV “Adoption Show,” which will begin airing on Friday, June 9, is a 15 minute program featuring 10 adoptable dogs per episode from various rescue shelters across the United States, including information on how to adopt them. The show is hosted by actress Maggie Lawson, and features renowned dog trainer Victoria Stillwell, who provides tips on helping adopted dogs cope in their new home. DOGTV will be gifting those who do adopt dogs featured on the program with a DOGTV goodie bag and a special adoption kit with $600 worth of product for their new pup.

The first episode is already available for pre-viewing online at dogtv.com/adopt where viewers can also find information about all of the dogs featured on the “Adoption Show” and how to adopt them. An important component of DOGTV’s adoption initiative will be spreading the word via social media. Be sure to visit facebook.com/dogtv for adoption success stories, tips for adopting dogs and more.

“DOGTV subscribers are passionate about their own pets in addition to the wellbeing of all animals. Launching the ‘Adoption Show’ across our network will inspire this dedicated group to help dogs in need, whether they are adopting a dog themselves, or sharing information on adoptable dogs with their friends,” says Ron Levi, Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer, DOGTV. “We are looking forward to rewarding those who open their hearts and homes to a rescue dog from our show by offering special adoption kits to help make the transition smooth for both the pet and their owner.”

DOGTV has a history of partnering with rescue shelters, providing free DOGTV programming that is scientifically designed to combat dog boredom, separation anxiety, hyperactivity and more, and has been especially helpful with calming shelter dogs and increasing their adoptability. For the “Adoption Show,” DOGTV is partnering with several shelters including the San Francisco SPCA, Chicago Canine Rescue, Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and more.

In addition to partnering with rescue shelters, DOGTV has also partnered with several dog-loving brands to support the “Adoption Show” and prep new pet parents who adopt dogs featured on the show with a great care package including a DOGTV goodie bag and the following items:

  • Find my Pet – A smart real time tracking collar for dogs
  • Thundershirt – A dog anxiety vest and calming solution, helping millions of dogs
  • Foscam R2 Indoor Home Camera – A camera that keeps an eye on your dog and allows you to talk to him right from your phone.
  • G.O.A.T. Smart Pet Speaker – A speaker that plays music for your dog and even takes selfies with him
  • I and Love and You – 6 bags of food and treats including Naked Essentials Kibble and treats, which are made with real meat and contain no grains, fillers or any artificial ingredients
  • Three Dog Bakery – All natural dog cookies, including a case of Classic Crèmes Carob with Natural Vanilla Flavor Filling
  • My Dog Nose it – Sun protection for your dog’s nose
  • The Secret Language of Dogs  – The new book from popular dog trainer and “Adoption Show” regular Victoria Stilwell

DOGTV’s “Adoption Show” will air everywhere DOGTV is available including on Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand, DIRECTV, RCN, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon FireTV, Roku, iOS, Android and DOGTV’s Social Media Channels.

Purina ONE 28 Day Challenge launches for 2017 to help North Shore Animal League

April 20, 2017

Andy Cohen Purina One Difference campaign
Andy Cohen engages with students while leading a lesson in New York on April 20, 2017. Along with a $20,000 donation to North Shore Animal League America’s Mutt-i-grees program, Purina ONE is partnering with Mutt-i-grees and Andy Cohen as part of its ONE Difference Campaign, which focuses on nourishing the lives of both students and shelter dogs across the country. (Photo by Amy Sussman/AP Images for Purina ONE)

From April 20 to May 31, 2017, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company will donate $10 (U.S. dollars) to the animal shelter/rescue organization North Shore Animal League America (NSALA) for each new consumer who registers for the Purina ONE 28 Day Challenge subject to a maximum donation of $20,000.  The Purina ONE 28 Day Challenge invites dog owners to their dog’s food to Purina ONE SMARTBLEND.

Andy Cohen’s rescue dog, Wacha, enjoys a Purina ONE lunch on in New York City on April 20, 2017. (Photo by Amy Sussman/AP Images for Purina ONE)

For the second consecutive year, the ONE Difference campaign will benefit NSALA’s Mutt-i-grees, a shelter-led academic curriculum that brings shelter dogs into classrooms and libraries, allowing students to engage with the pets while learning lessons in emotional competence, academic achievement and social awareness. According to a Purina press release, Mutt-i-grees was developed by The Pet Savers Foundation, an affiliate of NSALA and Yale University School of the 21st Century. More than 4,000 schools and libraries nationwide participate in the program.

On April 20, 2017, Purina elebrated its ONE Difference campaign today with the help of television personality Andy Cohen and his former shelter dog Wacha. The Bravo executive/talk show host joined the brand and North Shore Animal League America at a library in New York City to name Wacha an honorary “Mutt-i-gree” for the day and help lead a lesson with area elementary school students.

Animal Planet announces new pet shows for 2017-2018

March 28, 2017

Animal Planet has announced these new pet-oriented TV series for the 2017-2018 season. Premiere dates are to be announced. The titles of the shows are subject to change.

“Animal House”

Antonio Ballatore and Chewie of "Animal House" (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet)
Antonio Ballatore and Chewie of “Animal House” (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet)

“Animal House” (working title) follows “HGTV Design Star” winner Antonio Ballatore and his right-hand dog, Chewie, along with project manager Grace and a team of designers as they convert drab spaces into dream living arrangements for homeowners and their pets. Each week, Ballatore and his team meet with pet-owners looking to add custom-designed, pet-centric builds to their homes. The “Animal House” designers and builders are up to the challenge of finding creative ways of building new customized spaces for homeowners to share with their beloved pets.

“Rescue Dog to Super Dog”

Nate Schoemer and Laura London on "Rescue Dog to Super Dog" (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet)
Nate Schoemer and Laura London of “Rescue Dog to Super Dog” (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet)

Millions of dogs live in shelters in the U.S. waiting for their forever homes. Tens of millions of people in the U.S. live with physical, mental or neurological disabilities. In Animal Planet’s new series, “Rescue Dog to Super Dog” (working title), shelter dogs are given a second chance to become a companion to someone in need.  Dog trainers Nate Schoemer and Laura London work hand in paw to train dogs to improve the lives of the people they serve, proving that people may rescue dogs, but dogs rescue people, too.

“My Fat Pet”

Travis Brorsen (center) of "My Fat Pet" (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet)
Travis Brorsen (center) of “My Fat Pet” (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet)

Who hasn’t laughed at a shared internet video of a fat cat trying to fit through a cat door?  But the unfortunate truth is that the U.S. pet overweight and obesity rate for dogs and cats is more than 50 percent, mostly the result of being overfed and not getting enough exercise. In Animal Planet’s all-new series “My Fat Pet,” animal expert and trainer Travis Brorsen works with pets and their owners through a four-month weight-loss journey. “My Fat Pet” premieres on Animal Planet in the third quarter of 2017.

UPDATE: The title of this show has been changed to “My Big Fat Pet Makeover.” The series premiere is on September 30, 2017.

“Cat Meets Dog”

What happens when nature’s worst enemies are forced to live together? Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy (“My Cat From Hell”) and dog trainer Zoe Stathis-Sandor come together to establish harmony in households with cats and dogs who don’t get along. Throughout the series, Jackson and Zoe also educate one another on their preferred species and try to convince the other who has the most pawsome pack.

UPDATE: The title of this show has now been changed to “Cat vs. Dog.” The series premiere is on November 11, 2017.

In addition, Animal Planet has announced that these pet-oriented TV shows have been renewed: “My Cat From Hell,” “Pet Nation Renovation,” “Pitbulls and Parolees,” “Puppy Bowl,” “Tanked” and “The Vet Life.”

New shows on Animal Planet that will focus on wild animals will include “Monster Rivers,” “Expedition Mungo” and “Extinct or Alive.”

March Madness-inspired ‘Meow Madness’ kitten basketball TV special debuts on Hallmark Channel

January 7, 2017

Kittens in the inaugural "Meow Madness" TV special.
Kittens in the inaugural “Meow Madness” TV special. (Photo courtesy of Hallmark Channel)

The following is a press release from Hallmark Channel:

Hallmark Channel, the exclusive home of kitten  sports and the highly rated “Kitten Bowl” franchise , announces the network’s latest  pet-centric  programming  buzzer  beater , “Meow Madness ,” a Hallmark  Channel  Original  Special Event, will  premiere at 8 p.m. ET on April 3 , 2017.

“Meow Madness” features author and animal advocate  Beth  Stern as host and Peabody Award-winning  reporter  Mary  Carillo as commentator.  The  special will showcase adoptable kittens in the most competitive tournament the basketball world  has ever seen. Hallmark Channel  enjoys home court  advantage for the inaugural “Meow Madness” special as 100 adorable, adoptable “cat-letes” purr-fect an unstoppable zone defense while taking shots  from the “flea throw” zone as  each team claw s its way to “The Final Fur.”

“Meow Madness” is produced by 3 Ball Entertainment.  Executive Producers are Todd A.  Nelson, Ross Weintraub, DJ Nurre and Jeff Altrockm,  with Kathy Sutula serving as co-executive  producer.  3 Ball Entertainment credits include “Extreme Weight Loss” (ABC), “Bar Rescue” (Spike)  and “My Cat From Hell” (Animal Planet), among others.

Check out these “Meow Madness” videos:

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