The two-year-old pup rescued after spending weeks abandoned in the woods in Puerto Rico waiting for her owner's return finally has a new home in New York — but her arrival is being delayed for weeks due to a new United Airlines policy, her rescuers say.
The loyal pooch, named Lily, was found curled up on top of her owner's T-shirt in the middle of the woods, where her owners had left her weeks before, according to the Animal Lighthouse Rescue, a group that places street dogs in Puerto Rico with new homes in New York City.
ALR rescuer Julie Sinaw said the group found a new owner for Lily after DNAinfo New York wrote about the pup's plight. Her flight was all set up but United "bumped us off, because they changed their policies," Sinaw said, adding that Lily's arrival in New York will now be delayed "for weeks."
"Unfortunately, United has changed their policies, reducing the number of dogs allowed on each flight from five to two," the group writes in a Facebook post. "With one flight a day from Puerto Rico, spots are booked for weeks."
The group added that "for every dog we can't fly to NY, there's another on the island being euthanized or dying on the street because there is no space in our shelter."
ALR has long worked with United Airlines as a "wonderful resource and partner," the group said in a Facebook post, "helping us fly hundreds of dogs from Puerto Rico to New York each year, and their PetSafe program and climate-controlled cabins allowed the dogs to travel safely from the shelter to their forever homes."
A spokesman for United said that the new policy was created "in the best interest of the dogs and animals we fly" after the airline did tests on the CO2 levels in the cargo hold where the dogs are carried.
"There's an extremely high demand for carrying dogs from Puerto Rico," said spokesman Charlie Hobart.
But Hobart said the airline ships pharmaceuticals from Puerto Rico in the same area of the plane as the dogs, and the pharmaceuticals require dry ice that consumes a large amount of the oxygen in the space.
Hobart said the United sales team is "looking into it and taking steps" to find a way to continue to help ALR transport their pups.
ALR is encouraging supporters to reach out to United on social media with the hashtags #UnitedAirlines and #unitedwithrescues "so we can bring our [strays] to the homes they've waited long enough for."
Supporters are also encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.