United Airlines says it's investigating after mistakenly flying a Kansas family's dog to Japan.

Joseph and Kara Swindle are currently in the process of moving from Oregon to Wichita, Kansas with their seven-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

On Tuesday, Kara and the kids flew to Kansas City, Missouri, and as soon as they got off the flight, they went to a United cargo facility to pick up the family dog, a 10-year-old German Shepherd named Irgo, who had been sent on an earlier flight.

But when they got to the facility, workers there gave them the wrong dog - a Great Dane.

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They later learned that Irgo had been put on a plane to Japan, where the Great Dane was supposed to go.

Kara says United employees don't know how the mix-up happened, but says the two dogs did have similar crates.

What infuriated her the most was that United wasn't able to confirm that her dog was put on the flight to Japan until it landed.

'The fact that we don't have any idea is the most frustrating part. He could be in Kansas City and we have no idea because the paperwork is all messed up. They have our paperwork here saying that this is the correct dog, but we know it's not. It's just horrible,' she said on Tuesday.

United Airlines mistakenly shipped Irgo (left) to Japan. The airline later sent his owner a photo (right) to confirm they found the dog. Photo / Kara Swindle
United Airlines mistakenly shipped Irgo (left) to Japan. The airline later sent his owner a photo (right) to confirm they found the dog. Photo / Kara Swindle

After confirming that the dog landed in Japan, United officials caused them further anguish when they said the dog might need to be putin quarantine for two weeks because it had left the country.

Luckily that wasn't needed and the dog was put on a flight right back to the U.S. It's unclear when the dog will arrive.

United put the mother and her two kids up in a Marriott hotel overnight on Tuesday while they waited for news of their dog.

The mishap has caused even more of a headache for the family, which was supposed to be in Wichita Wednesday morning to sign paperwork for their new house.

On Tuesday, Kara wasn't certain if they would be able to make that meeting.

United issued this statement about the incident.

"An error occurred during connections in Denver for two pets sent to the wrong destinations. We have notified our customers that their pets have arrived safely and will arrange to return the pets to them as soon as possible. We apologize for this mistake and are following up with the vendor kennel where they were kept overnight to understand what happened."

The news of Irgo's unplanned odyssey comes as United admits another dog died after a flight attendant forced its owners to put the dog in an overhead bin on a flight from Houston to New York.

- AP