Protecting pets on US flights

The US Department of Transportation has proposed a strengthening of regulations involving the transport of animals on airplanes.

The proposal would require 36 airlines to report companion animal incidents that happen in the cargo holds of their planes.  Currently, only 15 airlines are required to submit annual reports.  Carriers also would have to report the number of animal losses, injuries and deaths and the total number of animals transported each year.

The Humane Society of the United States has endorsed the proposal.  The Society regularly receives complaints about animals who are injured in cargo holds or – worse – die.  Animals transported as cargo are exposed to excessive temperatures (hot and cold) and rough handling.  There have been reports of poor ventilation and lack of oxygen, too.

Another significant change is that the regulations also would apply to dogs and cats being shipped for commercial sale. With an upsurge in online sales, particularly of dogs,  many operators of inhumane commercial breeding facilities (puppy mills) transport dogs to pet stores and to new owners via airplanes.

Inga Fricke, the Director of Sheltering and Pet Care Issues for the Humane Society says  “We applaud the Department of Transportation for proposing to expand this rule because it will keep dogs and cats safer on planesRequiring stronger reporting requirements of airline carriers will force carriers to better handle animals during transport, providing the oversight needed. It would also give consumers clarity when choosing an animal friendly airline, and travelers would be able to compare carriers’ rates of animal deaths and injuries.”

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