The death of this family pet comes only a few months after prize rabbit Simon, bred to be the largest rabbit in the world, also died in the cargo hold of a United Airline flight from London to Chicago.
The airline is notorious for pet deaths on their flights. According to the US Department of Transportation's February 2017 Air Data Consumer Report, United has had the worst record for pet deaths in 2015 and 2016. In 2016 alone, eight dogs and a Sphynx kitten died.
Ingrid Newkirk, PETA's president, released a statement after Simon the rabbit's death.
"This rabbit's death is not unique — more than 300 animals have died in cargo holds [on United] since 2005, and many more have been injured or lost. PETA urges United to join JetBlue and Southwest in prohibiting companion animals from being flown as checked baggage in the confusion, noise, extreme temperatures and improper pressurization of a cargo hold," Newkirk said.
While the dog's family awaits answers, they can only speculate on what could have caused their pet's death.
"There were significant problems with the air conditioning in the main cabin where we are sitting, so we are deeply concerned about the conditions in cargo… and worried that there was significant negligence on the part of #UnitedAirlines," the family posted on Facebook. National Weather Service records show that the temperature in Houston on Sunday was a scorching 94 degrees.
The Humane Society also discourages transporting pets in the cargo hold of a plane. "It can be dangerous and stressful," the organization states on their website.
United has yet to provide the cause of the dog's death and is apparently still in the investigation process. The airline released this statement to International Business Times:
"We are so sorry to learn of Lulu's passing and have reached out to our customer to offer our condolences and assistance. We are deeply upset any time an animal suffers an injury while traveling with us and especially grieved in the rare instance that one passes away. We are conducting a thorough review of this incident."
Lulu's death is only the most recent in a long streak of high-profile incidents on the airline. Supermodel Maggie Rizer wrote a post in 2012 condemning the airline for causing the death of her two-year-old golden retriever. Only a week later, a Miami native blamed the airline for the death of his mastiff on a cross-country trip to San Francisco during a heatwave.
It's not only animals in danger on United, however. Shortly after Simon the rabbit's death, a video showing passenger David Dao being violently dragged off of a United Express flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, to clear a seat for a flight attendant went viral.
Although the settlement United reached with Dao is confidential, US legal analysts conjecture that he could have received up to several million dollars.
This past April, a United Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Costa Rica when one of its engines supposedly overheated.