When the 3 year-old prized whippet, Vivi, escaped from her cage at JFK airport almost two weeks ago, people took notice. She had just come from winning an Award of Merit at the Westminster Kennel Club show but was last seen bolting down the runway at 25mph just before boarding her Delta flight from JFK to Los Angeles.
It seemed to be a tragic isolated incident but what people didnâ€™t know was there were already 25 lost dogs in the animal rescue shelter at JFKâ€™s cargo area. According to Bobbi Giordano, owner of Bobbi & the Strays, Vivi is the 4th dog lost so far this month. The non-profit organization is dedicated to finding permanent homes for their hopefully temporary boarders.
According to the Department of Transportation, more than “two million pets and live animals are transported by air every year in the United States.” The ASPCA estimates that as many 5,000 animals were injured, lost or killed annually during transit in the late 1990â€™s. This in part led to the May 2005 DOT regulation
requiring all airlines to start reporting monthly concerning incidents involving the loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation. In the six months of reporting complied so far there have been 16 deaths, 16 injuries and 4 losses of pets reported by US airlines.
Delta adheres to strict animal safety regulations including animal types accepted, weather restrictions, possible health/acclimation requirements, and the requirement of a USDA approved kennel size/type. Delta charges $100 one-way for checking pets as baggage. If Vivi was checked as baggage vs. traveling as air cargo, Deltaâ€™s liability is limited to only $2,800. Varying reports have been given with the award winning whippet estimated to be valued anywhere from $15,000 up to $150,000. Whippets are currently one of the
most popular show dogs in the hound category but any animal lover knows that their pet is a devoted family member which ultimately means they are priceless.
Safety tips for your pets travel are available on most airline and the DOT website. But if you want to ensure their safety, boarding your pet or hiring a pet sitter while youâ€™ll be away may just be your safest bet overall.