Simon, a 10-month-old, 3-foot-long rabbit, was found dead in late April after a United flight from London to Chicago. According to Annette Edwards, Simon’s breeder, the animal was in perfect health prior to the flight. “Simon had a vet’s check-up three hours before the flight and was fit as a fiddle,” Edwards told The Sun.
Just one week ago, United spokesman Charles Hobart told the Associated Press that Simon was alive and well when the plane landed at O'Hare International Airport. However, shortly after landing, a pet facility employee opened Simon’s crate and found him dead.
Now, the airline is being accused of leaving Simon in a freezer overnight, thus causing his untimely demise.
Unnamed airport sources quoted by The Sun claim that Simon was accidentally left inside a freezer for up to 16 hours in Chicago before he was discovered. "Everyone thought he was just having a nap or something. Nobody realised it needed to be taken out,” one unidentified source said.
However, a United Airlines spokesperson categorically denied the accusation in a statement: “The assertion that Simon died in a freezer is completely false. Simon was cared for at the PetSafe kennel facility which is kept at room temperature (on average 70°F). He arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport in apparent good condition at 10:25 am (local time). He was seen by a representative of the kennel facility moving about within his crate about 11:00am. Shortly thereafter, a kennel representative noticed Simon was motionless and determined that he passed away.”
Unfortunately, it appears as though the true cause of Simon’s death may never be revealed. Edwards says United Airlines cremated the rabbit without her consent after she repeatedly asked them to send the rabbit’s body back to the U.K. so it could be examined by a local veterinarian.
“Then finally late on Friday they called and told me he had been cremated and there was nothing they could do,” she told The Sun. “I suspected he was dropped, but to find out he was frozen to death has really knocked me.”
United refused to comment on the cremation claim, telling Travel + Leisure: "We were saddened by the loss of Simon and have worked with Annette Edwards to reach a satisfactory resolution."