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United Airlines faces a deepening public outcry after a dog perished in an overhead bin on one of its planes, prompting a senator to demand an explanation for the carrier's industry-high rate of animal deaths.

Eighteen of the 24 animals that died on a major U.S. airline last year were in United's care, Louisiana Republican John Kennedy wrote in a letter to United President Scott Kirby on Wednesday. By comparison, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines Group Inc. each reported two deaths, Kennedy said.

The dog's death is the latest incident putting a spotlight on United Continental management's handling of public relations scandals. CEO Oscar Munoz drew scorn for his response last April when a passenger was forcibly dragged from a plane. Just weeks later, a giant rabbit died while in United's care.

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