Friendly Skies Not So Friendly for Animals

The Friendly Skies Aren’t So Friendly for Traveling Animals

Every now and then you hear a story about a dog or cat dying or getting loose while being transported through an airline. You don’t hear these stories too often and airlines say they don’t happen too often but now I find there’s a legal loophole when to comes to airlines reporting animal deaths. It seems they only have to report ‘pet’ deaths, not animals deaths when the animal belongs to a business entity.

What this means is that when breeders or pet stores or that such transport animals, dog or cats or birds or whatever, and there are deaths, they don’t have to report them. Hunh?? So they die but it doesn’t count?

It defines the word “animal” to mean one “that is being kept as a pet in a family household in the United States.” This allows incidents involving commercially owned animals, such as shipments by breeders, pet stores, laboratories and farms —- most of the animals traveling aboard aircraft —- to go unreported.

Airlines say they carry hundreds of thousands of animals each year and the vast majority are transported safely. Nationally in the past year, airlines have reported the deaths of 29 pets; an additional 13 were injured and seven were lost, according to an AJC review of animal incident reports filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Airline officials note that their own investigations usually find they were blameless because pets had pre-existing medical conditions or owners used flimsy crates. (AJC)

The article points out one case in which a crate with a little puppy in it was stored under a baggage cart to keep in out of the weather but seems everyone forgot the puppy was there and the cart ran over the puppy and killed it. They didn’t have to report this because the puppy was shipped by a breeder. Doesn’t seem to matter that it was en route to a family that was waiting anxiously for their new puppy who they had already named Maggie Mae.

Maggie Mae’s owner, Jackie Douglass, is outraged the puppy’s death doesn’t count under the regulations. Douglass had watched videos of the puppy, prepared for its arrival and named it after a favorite Rod Stewart song.

“I still have nightmares,” said Douglass, of Auburn, N.H., recalling a Delta official telling her how Maggie Mae’s crate was run over by a baggage conveyor machine in Atlanta on April 5. Workers forgot they had put the 12-week-old puppy under it to keep the animal out of the rain during loading, Douglass said she was told.

Exempting some animals from reporting makes no sense, she said.

“Just because they haven’t gotten to the home they’re going to be in the rest of their life doesn’t mean they are any less loved by the person who raised them or is going to get them,” Douglass said.

A Delta spokeperson tells that they had over 15,000 animals transported in a two month period with “zero reportable deaths.” Ok, well how many deaths were there that you didn’t have to report? Airlines refuse to admit to these numbers because they don’t have to.

Looks to me like there needs to be some changes.

Jol Silversmith, a Washington attorney who specializes in aviation regulation law, said the public can help fix the Maggie Mae loophole. “The best solution at this point is to put pressure on DOT directly or on Congress to revisit the issue,” he said.

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