The Safe Air Travel for Animals Act went into effect in May 2005 which requires all airlines to report any incidents involving the loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation. From this time until November 2006, weâ€™re sorry to report that there have been 12 losses, 27 injuries, and 46 deaths of beloved pets entrusted for safe passage. Continental Airlines reported 16 deaths and 11 injuries during this time .
Other airlines results as reported by the theÂ Third AmendmentÂ which tracks these statistics:
According to the Department of Transportationâ€™s (DOT) Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD), over two million pets and other live animals are transported every year in the United States alone. Comparatively speaking, 85 reported incidents is relatively small overall but the majority of these animals are not just pets â€“ they are truly family members.
“Many injuries, deaths and escapes can be attributed to either the pet trying to escape the kennelâ€¦a dog can chew itâ€™s way outâ€¦dogs and cats are able to push the door open or partially open and escapeâ€¦the kennels itself if not properly and securely assembledâ€¦the kennel lock is broken or not properly latched” â€“ these are all reasons, according to the United States DepartmentÂ of Agriculture (USDA), as to why pets can be injured or worse during transportation.
Unfortunately, many animal rights groups in the United States believe that the new legislation simply did not go far enough. There have been no provisions to improve the temperature control or ventilation systems of the cargo and baggage areas of aircrafts. In the event of a tragedy, the dollar amount that families can recover is still also severely limited.
The Toronto Humane Society goes so far as to boldly state that they “do not recommend shipping pets by plane unless there is no alternative.” Basic recommendations include avoiding flying your pet during the high traffic months of May to August (as these have the highest reports of incidents), properly and securely assembling a quality kennel and then acclimatizing your pet to their kennel prior to travel. Detailed safety tips for your pets travel are available on most airline websites, the DOT website atÂ www.dot.govÂ and the Humane Society of the United States online atÂ www.hsus.org
And as to Vivi, the prized whippet who was last seen in January 2006 bolting down the runway at JFK, there have been unconfirmed sightings as recently as November 2006 but to date she has not yet been found by her family.