The 11-year-old girl, Sophia Ceballos, whose dog, Kokito died after a flight attendant forced them to put the pet in an overhead compartment is speaking out.
The dog died on the United Airlines flight #1284 from Houston, Texas, to New York City’s Laguardia Airport, after a flight attendant fixedly instructed the passenger to store her carrier, with the pet inside, in an overhead storage bin for the duration of the flight.
Ceballos told Good Morning America; “He was a member of our family, he was like my brother to me.”
Ceballos, along with her 2-month old brother and mother Catalina Robledo, were returning from Houston, Texas, where Robledo’s husband was working. They travelled with the 10-month-old French bulldog.
According to GMA, the return flight to New York ended in misfortune after the flight attendant made them stow the pet in the overhead bin instead of keeping the dog beneath the seat in front of theirs.
Ceballos speaking to GMA recalled how the attendant forced them to store Kokito in the overhead bin;
“We were gonna put him under the seat and then the flight attendants came, she said, ‘You have to put him up there because it’s going to block the path.’ And we’re like, ‘It’s a dog, it’s a dog.’ And she’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter you still have to put it up there,’ “She helped her put it up, and she just closed it like it was a bag.”
In spite of the dog reportedly barking early into the three-hour trip, the pet remained in the overhead bin until the plane landed, GMA said.
“My mom got up and got the bag, and she took him out, and she’s like, ‘ Kokito, Kokito, wake up!’ and he didn’t,” Ceballos recalled.
Fellow passenger Maggie Gremminger told PEOPLE that she was stunned to see the puppy being stowed in an overhead bin but understood why the family followed the flight attendant’s instruction.
“My only thought is that if it had been me, it would have been a hard scenario. The flight attendant is the authority figure, who should be trusted. I was thinking ‘maybe there is an improved ventilation system’ or something of the sorts,” Gremminger said. “Also, the owner had an infant and other daughter. Causing a scene before flight could risk being kicked off the flight. I can only imagine she felt stuck in her decision to comply.”
Gremminger said the dog stopped barking about 30 minutes into the flight, after the plane hit turbulence, but his death was not discovered until the plane landed.
“A stranger offered to hold her newborn while she sat on the floor, there in the airplane aisle. She was holding her dog and rocking back and forth. Her daughter was also crying,” she explained of the scene following the discovery. “People who could not see what was happening were confused as to what was going on. I tried to encourage people to let them off first but it was confusing and so we waited for the rows to filter out. It was absolutely horrible.”
The flight attendant who moved the dog claimed that she was unaware a live animal was in the carrier, Gremminger said.
Watch video below;