Pet Travel: Airline Pet Cargo Incident Reporting
It appears that the deaths of seven puppies in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet earlier this month has incited a request from 3 senators, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), to clarify the word “animal” in congressional statutes when it comes to reporting pet incidents by airlines. In a letter to Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, the Senators state that it was the original intent of the statute to include commercially bred and show dogs as being included as an animal that was to be reported should a death or injury occur in transport, not just an animal that was kept as a pet. Not reporting incidents involving breeder puppies and show dogs would unrealistically skew airline safety records, making it harder for people to make informed decisions about airline cargo travel.
Although the deaths reported by the airlines monthly are single digit, we must point out that the Department of Transportation estimates that over 2 million pets and live animals are shipped each year. The numbers most commonly reported are cumulative (they are not stated as such, I might add). Losing an animal is bad press for an airline, and there are many airlines that treat their furry travelers as very special pet cargo. Read the Air Travel Consumer Report, select a month, and scroll down to the last report for the Animal Incident Report.
Certainly, reporting incidents regarding ALL animals under the responsibility of the airline will encourage even more empasis on safety on the part of the airlines.
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UPDATE: July, 2014 Starting in January, 2015, the Department of Transportation will expand the number of airlines that are required to report incidents involving pets. They will also require more information from the airlines including the number of pets they transport. This information will give pet owners a better picture of an airline’s record when it comes to transporting pets. Good news for traveling pets. Stay tuned for updates…