US Coast Guardsman faces $31,000 fee to fly dog home from Japan after United policy change

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The owner of a 221-pound English mastiff may have to pay a huge sum of money to fly her dog back from Japan after United Airlines changed its policy regarding pet travel.

Stars and Stripes reported the dog, named George Jefferson, belongs to Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer McKay. McKay paid $3,200 to bring George with her to Japan using United’s air cargo service.

More than a week ago, United paused its pet-shipping business after mishaps that included a dog winding up in Japan instead of Kansas. United has halted reservations while it reviews the service.

The review, expected to finish by May 1, doesn’t affect pets in the cabin.

“I am a single-parent servicemember just trying to get home to the U.S. with my dog and my son,” McKay told Stars and Stripes. “The alternative options to do this are financially unreasonable — but my dog is my family and I won’t leave him behind.”

George Jefferson is too heavy to use the normal way for pet owners to transport animals to and from Japan. The only other airline that flies to her destination is All Nippon Airways, at a cost of $31,000.

Many other airlines refuse to carry English mastiffs, according to McKay.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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