In this April 1, 2017 file photo, a service dog strolls through the isle inside a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport while taking part in a training exercise, in Newark, N.J

© AP Photo/ Julio Cortez, File

Military pets stationed on Guam will now be able to return home to the US with their owners, thanks to a reversal of policy by United Airlines. United have announced an exception to the suspension of their PetSafe service, meaning that US troops returning from Guam can bring their pets with them.

In March United Airlines announced that they would not be taking new bookings for their PetSafe service, after a series of incidents including the death of a dog in an aircraft cabin and a German Shepherd being shipped to Japan instead of Kansas. Protests including a ‘dog-in’ at LaGuardia airport pressured the airline into suspending the service, and conducting a full review of their system for shipping pets around the world.    

READ MORE: United Airlines Leaves US Military Family Pets Stranded on Guam

With the review not expected to be completed until May 1, this caused particular problems for US military personnel stationed on Guam who are scheduled to move back to America. United are the only airline servicing Guam, leading to fears that pets would have be abandoned. Fortunately, United have recognised that as the only carrier going to and from Guam that a limited exception could be granted for people and, crucially, their pets on the island.    

The US Navy had previously announced that United were going to grant an exception for pets on Guam, though this quickly turned out to be a mistake. The Chief of Naval Personnel facebook page said that United had updated its policy to exempt troops on military move orders. Military families called United to confirm this and were told that there had been no update. The Navy’s facebook page posted an apology, saying, “We apologize for the confusion from today’s earlier post on United’s pet policy. We are getting further clarification and will update when we have obtained more information.”  

Luckily for the military pets of Guam, United announced on April 2 that they have now updated their policy to make a limited exception for families moving off Guam in the coming weeks. United spokesman Charles Hobart told military.com, “After careful review and listening closely to feedback from our customers, we have made an exception to the suspension of new reservations for our PetSafe service. We will allow new reservations for members of the military and their spouses, and State Department Foreign Service Personnel and their spouses, traveling with or shipping their pets out of Guam between April 3 and April 30.” 

Hobart continued, recognizing that United were the only way for military families to move their pets off Guam, saying, “We understand that our PetSafe program provides an important service to military families. As the only major carrier in Guam, for U.S. military returning from assignments in Guam, United is often the only way for them to fly their pets home.” Madeleine Bordallo, Guam’s congressional representative-at-large, responded to the news, saying in a statement that she was “very pleased that United Airlines is working to accommodate Guam families and their pets, including our military service members who are re-deployed.”