According to the Humane Society of the United States, transporting your pet by air subjects them to very hot or very cold temperatures, low oxygen and air circulation plus the possibility of rough handling in the cargo hold of a plane.
Due to problems associated with pets and air travel, Congress passed the Safe Air Travel Act in April 2000 which the Department of Transportation adopted in 2005. What this means is that all airlines that are based in America must report incidents in the cargo holds of their planes which includes losses, injuries and / or deaths. If you wish to view a month to month list of these incidents, go to Air Travel Consumer Report which is on the Department of Transportation website.
While researching for safe travel options for your pet, always consider what is best for your pet and convenient for you. For an additional fee, if your pet is a cat or small dog, many airlines will allow you to take the animal on board with you. When you contact an airline, remember to ask:
- Can you take your small dog or cat on board with you?
- Is there a restriction on transporting the pet as cargo?
- What type of carrier does the airline require? Although soft –sided carriers are more comfortable for your pet, many airlines require a hard-sided carrier.
- Are there any pet health or vaccination requirements?
To increase the chances of a safe flight for your pet:
- Carry a photograph of your pet and examine them once you are in a safe area after the flight. If something appears wrong, take the pet to a veterinarian right away.
- Try not to fly during holidays or the summer as it will increase the chance of rough handling.
- Do “trial runs” with your pet in the carrier about one month prior to trip so they will become comfortable and reduce stress.
- Place a label on the carrier with your name, permanent address and telephone number along with an emergency contact person. Put this information on the collar but be sure the collar isn’t too tight.
- Pug-nosed breeds should not be shipped as their short noses make it harder for them to breath.
If you have any questions, the veterinary assistant at your pet’s veterinary hospital should be able to answer any problems or concerns you may have.