Traveling with Fido

Pet owners who like to travel may have some good news coming soon, after recent developments in the U.S. The American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has thrown its considerable support behind legislation aimed at reducing the number of animals lost, killed or injured while under the care of airlines. Last year in the U.S. more than 5,000 pets suffered one of these calamities while traveling by air.

The new bill ensures that all airline air cargo holds carrying animals are equipped with ventilation and heating and cooling systems. It raises the amount of compensation airlines would owe when pets are lost, injured, or killed and requires that airlines report pet-related problems as individual incidents, instead of burying them in their “mishandled baggage” reports. The bill also directs the Department of Transportation to make information about airlines’ animal safety records accessible to the public.

Most animals flying today are confined to cargo holds where the available oxygen is severely limited and the temperature cannot be regulated. As a result, many die from suffocation, heat prostration, and exposure, as well as from mishandling by baggage rsonnel. Grief stricken owners are often shocked by the airlines’ response to pet deaths or injuries.

Even if a pet is killed or injured badly enough to require thousands of dollars in veterinary care, owners can recover no more from the airlines than as if they had lost their suitcase or golf clubs. According to The ASPCA, the highest value that can be claimed for the “lost property” is $1,250, and many owners receive much less, or are simply ignored.

If the legislation results in new practices by the airlines, the results would likely spill over into the Canadian market. After all, if the U.S. airlines are suddenly forced to treat traveling pets with a little respect, which airline will YOU take when you’re traveling to the U.S.?