‘How could this happen?’ Woman wonders how pet was put on wrong flight

GREEN, Ohio - Flying back to her home in Green from a trip to Florida, Karen Jones booked a flight on United Airlines with a layover in Newark.

Along for the trip was her six-year-old mixed breed dog, Dudley; the pup had to travel with cargo.

"When we were in Florida we could see the dog going up the conveyor belt into the plane, and in Newark you couldn't see anything," said Jones.

Jones says what she saw outside of her connecting flight in Newark made her wonder if Dudley was on board.

"I saw a couple of pet -safe vans driving around like there was some confusion, and I saw the people on the tarmac radioing and that's another thing that made me think Dudley's not on this plane; there's some confusion with the pet safe," said Jones.

She questioned a flight attendant who, she says, did not seem sure of his answer.

"The next thing I know the cockpit door is opening and then the plane door is opening. The pilot exits the plane," said Jones, who tells FOX 8 that she was then told a representative of the airline was on the jetway and needed to speak with her.

"So I had to go out and talk to that man and he said, 'Your pet is not on this plane, but we know where he is,' and I said, 'Okay, where is he?' And he said, 'He is on a flight en route right now to St. Louis.' I crumbled. I just started crying and said, 'How could this happen after the week you guys had? Now my Dudley. How could this happen?'"

The St. Louis-bound plane on which Dudley was mistakenly loaded was diverted to the Akron-Canton Airport for an unscheduled landing.

The airline has since issued a statement saying:

"United Express Flight 3996 from Newark to St. Louis diverted to Akron to drop off a pet that had been loaded onto this flight mistakenly. The pet has been safely delivered to its owner. We provided compensation to all customers on board for the diversion."

The mistake comes after a week in which one dog died in an overhead compartment of a United flight and another Kansas-bound dog ended up on a flight to Japan.

"The flight attendant said to me, because you were so adamant about your dog, I think this is why the outcome is the way it is; the flight attendant actually said that to me," said Jones.

"I had a lot of things going through my mind. I was thinking, well if he is going to be stuck in St. Louis he's going to be in his kennel for too long. Are they going to have to put him in a kennel overnight or how are they going to get him back to Akron-Canton? But when he said they were diverting the plane, I'm like, 'Wow, you don't hear that often,'" said Jones.

Jones says she never had any problems in any of her previous flights on United with Dudley, but recommends anyone flying with a dog that has to fly cargo should consider a direct flight rather than one with a layover.

"They call it the pet safe program but if they have pets misplaced all over the country it's not a safe program and they need to do something about it," said Jones​.