Mix-up leads to United Airlines flying family dog to Japan by mistake

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — A family wants answers after their dog was put on the wrong flight and went overseas.

Mix-up leads to United Airlines flying family dog to Japan by mistake
United Airlines mistakenly sent a family’s dog, Irgo, to Japan instead of Kansas City. (KMBC/ABC)

They are devastated.

They were flying from Portland, to Denver, then into Kansas City.

They say the dog was staying at a pet hotel in Denver, but instead of being placed on a plane to Kansas City, he was shipped all the way to Nagano, Japan.

“I just can’t even fathom how this happened,” said Kara Swindle, the dog’s owner.

Swindle and her family still don’t understand exactly how their German Shepherd, Irgo, ended up across the ocean.

When they arrived to pick him up in Kansas City – they were presented with the wrong dog.

“She took me back to the kennel and called his name, and up pops this huge Great Dane,” said Swindle. “I instantly burst into tears. Like, this is not my dog.”

Early Wednesday morning, United Airlines confirmed Irgo had touched down in Japan.

They sent Kara several photos of her family’s precious cargo on another continent.

“What they think happened was that the pet resort at the Denver airport took the dogs out, and apparently, they had the same kind of kennel,” said Swindle. “So how still that got messed up, I’m not sure.”

Swindle says it’s like missing a family member.

“My son’s been crying all day. My daughter doesn’t understand because she’s only two. She just keeps saying ‘Irgy! Irgy! Where’s Irgy?’”

The family is now worried about the 10-year-old dog’s health on the 16-hour flight home.

“I can’t imagine what he’s thinking and going through right now. He’s probably so scared and freaked out. And probably hurting too, because he doesn’t have his medicine now.”

Swindle just hopes he survives that long trip home.

“I’m hoping and praying that he will stay alive.”

United Airlines said Irgo will be put on a plane from Tokyo to Kansas City Wednesday night.

The family says they plan to pursue legal action against the pet resort, and the airline.

United’s apology for this mistake comes after the tragic death of another dog on a flight from Houston to New York Monday.

The family and other passengers said the flight attendant demanded the puppy’s carry-on case be moved from under the seat in front of them-into the overhead bin.

Passengers reported the dog barked softly during the first part of the flight, but turbulence prevented anyone from checking him. Then the barking stopped. When the plane landed after three hours, the dog was dead.

Wednesday, United said their flight attendant “did not hear or understand there was a dog in the bag” and did not “knowingly place the dog in the overhead bin.”

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