In this time of perhaps the most intense political division our country has experienced, the right and the left are actually united on something: United messed up.
People everywhere were horrified to learn a 10-month-old French bulldog, Kokito, died by suffocation on a flight to New York City out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport last Monday night after a United Airlines flight attendant demanded the dog's owner stow the pet in the overhead compartment—despite Kokito being in a TSA-approved carrier under the seat. Worse yet, Kokito was the second dog to die on a United flight out of Houston in less than a year: 5-year-old Lulu died in the cargo hold of a delayed flight out of IAH last August.
Regarding Kokito, United didn't even attempt to defend the flight attendant, instead offering an apology and promising an investigation into the matter. (Later, United issued another statement to say the flight attendant hadn't heard the family when they protested putting Kokito in the overhead bin, and failed to understand a live dog was in the carrier in the first place.) Now, at least one other investigation is also underway–by the Harris County District Attorney's office.
KRPC2 reported the Family Criminal Law and Animal Cruelty Division is in the preliminary stage of its own investigation, planning to carefully review law enforcement's findings. Harris County DA Kim Ogg, a Democrat, shared a link to KRPC's story on her Facebook, prompting constituents to offer their own take on the incident–most pleading for "justice for Kokito."
"Kim Ogg will get them if she can," one user wrote.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R–Louisiana) offered similar outrage and event went so far as to introduce legislation on the matter. The "Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act"–also known as "WOOFF"–directs the FAA to explicitly prohibit storing live animals in overhead compartments and establishes civil fines for violations.
Today, I introduced the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act, also known as WOOFF, w my colleague @SenCortezMasto. Our bill directs the @FAANews to create regulations to prohibit the storing of a live animal in any overhead compartment and establish civil fines for violations #WOOFF pic.twitter.com/U3nZqLNIaH— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) March 15, 2018
"Violators will face significant fines. Pets are family," Kennedy said in a March 14 tweet.
"In a lot of respects, dogs are how people ought to be. What happened on @United was disgraceful and doesn't need to happen again," he said in another tweet on March 15, embedding a video of his appearance on CNN to discuss his bill. "I don't enjoy having to legislate common decency, but by God, I'm going to do it until they take this seriously."
That got mixed reviews, and a whole lot of responses citing gun violence and the GOP's lack of legislative action, including one from Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky.
"17 people got shot at my school and nobody's taking THAT seriously," Kasky replied to Kennedy on Twitter.
17 people got shot at my school and nobody’s taking THAT seriously. If they were, they wouldn’t be talking about that little #StopSchoolViolenceAct— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) March 15, 2018
Others accused Kennedy of caring more about dogs than kids. "Getting shot by an AR-15 doesn't meet the 'common decency' threshold for the GOP? Or did I miss that legislation Senator?" one user asked.
Some preferred a more holistic view—dogs and other animals are living creatures, too, deserving of Kennedy's attention and legislation. "Why can't both problems be worked on?" one Twitter user offered.
To that end, there's Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D–Nevada): She co-sponsored the WOOFF Act with Kennedy in the same month she co-sponsored legislation to ban bump stocks, reduce the number of rounds in high capacity magazines, expand universal background checks, and enable the CDC to study gun deaths.
"Congress can and must do more to prevent senseless mass shootings and save lives," she said in a Senate hearing.
Apparently, it must also do more to prevent dogs dying on domestic flights—that's something both sides can agree on.