Senators Request Change in Reporting Airline Pet Cargo Incidents

Pet Travel: Airline Pet Cargo Incident Reporting

It appears that the deaths of seven puppies in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet earlier this month has incited a request from 3 senators, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), to clarify the word “animal” in congressional statutes when it comes to reporting pet incidents by airlines. In a letter to Ray LaHood, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, the Senators state that it was the original intent of the statute to include commercially bred and show dogs as being included as an animal that was to be reported should a death or injury occur in transport, not just an animal that was kept as a pet. Not reporting incidents involving breeder puppies and show dogs would unrealistically skew airline safety records, making it harder for people to make informed decisions about airline cargo travel.

Although the deaths reported by the airlines monthly are single digit, we must point out that the Department of Transportation estimates that over 2 million pets and live animals are shipped each year. The numbers most commonly reported are cumulative (they are not stated as such, I might add). Losing an animal is bad press for an airline, and there are many airlines that treat their furry travelers as very special pet cargo. Read the Air Travel Consumer Report, select a month, and scroll down to the last report for the Animal Incident Report.

Certainly, reporting incidents regarding ALL animals under the responsibility of the airline will encourage even more empasis on safety on the part of the airlines.

Like to discuss? Respond here or join our forum community.

UPDATE: July, 2014 Starting in January, 2015, the Department of Transportation will expand the number of airlines that are required to report incidents involving pets. They will also require more information from the airlines including the number of pets they transport. This information will give pet owners a better picture of an airline’s record when it comes to transporting pets. Good news for traveling pets. Stay tuned for updates…

Dog Park Safety – How to Prepare Your Dog and Avoid Conflicts at a Dog Park

Earlier this month a Siberian husky named Bear-Bear was roaming in his neighborhood dog park when he approached a leashed German Shepherd. The Shepherd was owned by an off-duty police officer. The dogs play began to play rough and the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian, his owner’s brother, to call off the dog. But before he could do anything, the officer pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear.

This tragic scenario might have been prevented. It is important for dog owners to be educated in proper dog park etiquette and safety. With a little training for yourself and your dog, dangerous situations can be avoided. In an article by Trish King, the Director of Behavior and Training at the Marin Humane Society, wrote, “Dog parks are like going to a party where everyone is drunk. It could be fun, or it could be a disaster.”

Here is a list of recommendations for preparing your dog to visit a neighborhood dog park.

Before Going to the Dog Park

Is your dog sociable? Does your dog behave well with other dogs and people? These are important questions to ask yourself before your visit to the dog park. The earlier you socialize the dogs, the better. If your dog has not been exposed to other dogs, then you may want to consider some socialization prior to going to the dog park. Walk your dog around your neighborhood and meet the other dogs in the area. This is a good way to see how your dog reacts to other dogs.

Vaccinations and shots for your dog must be up to date. Most dog parks require this, but it is also for your dog’s best interest. This will help prevent diseases and parasites. Also, flea medication is a must, or plan to flea bathe your pet after your visit. You certainly don’t want to bring home any unwanted guests!

Be sure your dog is trained in the basic commands. Commands like sit, stay, and come are crucial at the dog park. If an altercation occurs, your dog will be more likely to respond to you and abondon an altercation.

Familiarize yourself to your dog’s play habits. Be able to differentiate when your dog is playing or getting aggressive. Know when to remove your dog if play gets out of hand.

At the Dog Park

Before entering, observe the environment. If the park is over-crowded, or some dogs are not playing in a suitable manner for your dog, do not enter.

Watch for toys. Some dogs are very possessive of toys. This type of behavior could easily lead to a skirmish at the dog park.

No food or treats at the dog park. Have you ever heard the saying “food fight”? This could be taken literally when dogs are concerned. Food is one thing that a dog will fight to protect.

Supervision is key. Don’t be the naive dog owner who thinks nothing can happen at the dog park. While you’re both there to have fun, your dog relies on you to keep them safe.

If a Fight Breaks Out

Remove your dog from the situation. If you notice a situation get out of hand, remove your dog before a fight can begin. This is when a strong “come” command is essential.

Resolve the situation with the other dog’s owner. Be proactive! Never reach for a dog’s collar, even your own. Always keep your hands away from their heads.

Knowing all about your dog’s personality is the key to a successful outing to the park. Also, being aware of what is happening will help with staying ahead of any potential conflicts and insuring a pleasant experience for both you and your dog.

Discuss your concerns about taking your pet to a dog park at our forum.

Lost Pets! Missing Pets! What to do?

It’s every pet owner’s nightmare: Your dog or cat is missing from the yard or dashes out the door, and you don’t know where they have gone. This could happen to even the safest pet owners. Before you panic, remember that there are steps that can be taken to recover your furry friend. Also, there are many ways to increase your chances of reuniting with your pet if the necessary precautions are made. Below is a list of what to do before and after losing your pet.

Precautions to Take Before Losing a Pet

Collars with an ID tag

Collars with an ID tag are recommended for EVERY pet, even indoor pets. The ID tag should have the owners name and current phone number. If you are traveling with your pet, keep your cell phone number on an additional tag for your pet. Just remember that collars can be removed or lost. Anyone can find a dog and replace their collar. To ensure your pet’s security, additional steps should be taken.

Microchip and Register Your Pet

Pet microchips are the best means for permanent identification. When an animal shelter finds a lost dog, the first thing they do is scan for a microchip. Inserting a microchip is a painless procedure and, once inserted, the chip will never expire. Be sure to register your pet’s microchip in the manufacturer’s database with your contact information. If you do not do this, microchipping is fruitless. Also, remember to keep your information up to date. Should your pet be picked up by animal control officials, they will be able to access this information and contact you.

Keep current pet pictures

Take a photo of your pet next to you with your cell phone and keep it current on your computer. If you don’t have a digital camera, most photo development stores can put your photos on a disk for you. If your pet ever gets lost, you’ll have a photo to show, post and print. Photos can make a HUGE difference in getting your pet back faster.

Know the local animal control agency

Learn where your local shelter is located. Keep in mind, there may be several branches. Pets can travel far, or are picked up by kind strangers who take them home – on the other side of town. Knowing all of local shelter locations in advance can help out in a frantic situation.

What to do if you lose your pet

Carefully check the house

Most pets like to hide or sleep in unusual places. Check under beds, bulky furniture and anywhere else he or she might be. Shaking a food dish or a squeaky toy might help get their attention.

Contact the local animal shelter

If you happen to be away from home and lose your pet, this step would especially apply to you. File a lost pet report with every shelter and animal control facility within a 60-mile radius of the dog’s last location and visit the nearest shelters daily, if possible. Even if they don’t have your pet at the moment, make them aware of the situation and to contact you if they happen to hear of anything. Be sure to check their website occasionally. If there are no animal shelters in the area, contact the local law enforcement agency.

Posting Flyers

Flyers are a great way to raise awareness. Describe the dog so an average person would recognize him if he saw him. Include identifying information about him like his collar, dog tags, tattoo, identifying features like scars or unusual colorations, or microchip ID number. A reward might motivate people to search but it is not recommended to put an exact amount.

Be wary of “found” calls!

At this devastating time, you are vulnerable and there are unethical people who may try to take advantage. If someone says they found your dog respond with an incorrect description to see if they fall for it. For example, ask if the dog has a marking on his or her right leg (but doesn’t) if they answer yes….you’re most likely involved in a scam

Many vets, neighbors, shelters and rescuers have found that the fastest way to place an animal back with its family is by following info on tags and microchips. Be sure that your dog is wearing a tag at all times, also be sure to microchip and register your dog.

Making microchips for pets mandatory? Helpful or harmful?

pet microchip

Whether you travel with your pet or not, it is important to consider the importance of microchipping your pet. Over 80% of pets that are separated from their owners are never reunited. That’s enough to get anyone thinking about this.

Would requiring microchips in pets and owner registration help reduce the number of strays in pet shelters and the cost of boarding and euthanizing them? Certainly, it will increase the number of reunions between pets and their owners. It would also increase accountability in pet owners encouraging them to turn in their pet to a shelter as opposed to abondoning them. When traveling with a pet, microchips are essential to protect your pet should it be lost or separated from you.

Are there further issues as well? How would the program be enforced? Would mandatory microchipping in domesticated pets mark the start of greater identification in all animals and eventually in humans?

Discuss this with other pet owners in our forum:

New Dangerous Dogs Regulations in Denmark

Denmark recently passed a ban on 13 breeds of dangerous dogs: Pitbull Terrier, Tosa Inu, American Staffordshire, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Boerbel, Kangal, Central Asian Ovtcharka, Caucasian Ovtcharka, Southern Russian Ovtcharka, Tornjak and Sarplaninac.

Although each member of the EU has bans on certain types of dangerous dogs, this is one of the most specific and extensive lists issued to date. It appears that many countries are becoming aware of liabilities involved in the import of these breeds.

Pet owners of breeds that have been characterized as dangerous dogs need to be aware of these restrictions when they travel with their pet.

Pet Travel in an RV

According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, nearly 4 million RV owners hit the open roads with their pets every year. RV life with pets can be challenging, even for the more experienced travelers. Fortunately, you can keep your pets happy and safe with a little work and preparation. The suggestions listed below will help insure a great RV experience with you and your pet.

Know the pet policy of your campground. Most campgrounds and RV parks have pet and noise restrictions. They might charge extra for pets or have leash rules or designated areas for dog walking. Also, a campsite that is a little more remote may increase the chances that a spirited pet won’t bother other campers. (If your pet barks at people passing by, selecting a campsite next to the restrooms makes little sense.)

Let your pet get acclimated to your RV before hitting the open road. Dogs and cats are much more comfortable examining a new space on their own. Give your pet time before travel to explore your recreational vehicle.

Consider restraining your pet During a sudden stop or accident, loose pets can be hurt or even killed. They can also distract others should they be allowed to roam while the RV is moving. To help keep your pet and family safe, it is sensible to have your dog restrained in some manner during travel. Some people prefer a pet carrier or cargo crate, while others prefer an automobile pet harness. A pet booster seat is another great option for smaller pets. Don’t forget your pet’s leash.

Take items that are familiar to your pet. A favorite dog bed or blanket, favorite toy or scratching post.

Make sure you have your pet’s medical records and your vet’s phone number. It is also a good idea to research the number of a local veterinarian in your destination town just in case of emergency.

Bring an ample supply of your pet’s food. Also, bring plenty of water from home. The last problem you both need is indigestion.

Provide plenty of stops for your pet when on the road. Like humans, dogs and cats need to take care of business and get in some stretches periodically when on trips. This will help reduce accidents. If your cat is litter trained, a portable litter tray can also come in handy.

Be prepared for the inevitable accident. Have a supply of paper towels, rags, and carpet and upholstery cleaners on hand, as well as floor cleaner.

Do not leave your pet alone in the RV! Extreme temperatures could seriously affect or even kill your pet. Consider the services of a pet day care if you plan to spend considerable time away from the RV once or twice during your trip. Otherwise, inquire in the community center or other campers for the services of a pet sitter.

Obey the rules wherever you stay. Don’t try to sneak your pet into any place not allowed. Please remember: places remain as pet-friendly as the last poorly behaved human allows.

An RV is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy your vacation without worrying about finding pet friendly hotels and restaurants. There is no reason why you and your pet cannot have a great time in a recreational vehicle with a bit of planning ahead of time.

Pet Travel by Air – Tips for Flying with a Pet

Family Flying with their petTraveling with your pet by air? Follow these simple steps for a safe and stress-free experience flying with your pet.

Airline pet travel can be an enjoyable experience, but can also be stressful without the proper preparation. It is important to remember (especially on international flights) that there is specific documentation that will need to be completed in advance of travel.

Identify Your Pet

First thing is to get a pet microchip for your dog or cat. The chip should have 15 digits and  thus will be ISO 11784/11785 compatible and accepted worldwide. Microchips are required to enter many countries and also used as the official identification of your pet. (Don’t forget to register your contact information.)

Research Your Destination’s Import Requirements

If you are traveling internationally by air, you will need pet passport forms for the specific country you are traveling to. Do not procrastinate! Some countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom all have quarantine policies ranging from up to six months. There are ways to avoid your pet being quarantined in these countries, but you must prepare in advance.

Find Your Air Carrier

The next step is to find the airlines which serve your origination and destination cities. Once you have a few airlines to choose from, take a look at their individual pet policies. Each airline is different with regard to pricing and pet policy. Doing your homework at this stage of the process is very important. Find an airline that flies your entire route. The airlines do not interline pets and, if you change airline companies, your pet will need to clear customs in your layover country.

Here’s a tip! Once you find the airline that suits your needs, (and those of your pet) print out a copy of their pet policy. This will ensure a hassle-free experience once you get to the airport. You can find airline pet policies at

The next step is to decide whether your pet needs to fly in the cabin of the airline or in the cargo area. This will depend solely on the size and type of your pet. Most airlines that permit pets in the cabin specify cats, dogs, and small birds only. (rules on birds vary, however). If your pet is small enough to travel in the cabin, you will need an airline compliant pet carrier. Your pet will need to be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier. It must have adequate ventilation, a waterproof bottom, and secure fasteners. A general rule is that your pet needs to be less than 10” high and 18” long to be able to travel in-cabin.

Another tip: call your airlines and ask them how much room there is under the seat in front of you on your specific flight. This will tell you if you will have problems with your pet’s carrier.

Larger cats and dogs and other pets not approved for in-cabin will fly in the cargo area of the plane. There are many myths about pets traveling as cargo such as “the area is a dark cold place where your pet is going to suffer.” This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Did you know that the cargo area where pets fly is temperature and pressure controlled just like the regular cabin? Also, all airline personnel who handle your pet have been specifically trained for this purpose. Airlines have to report all incidents to the US Department of Transportation for recording. Certainly, they want to avoid any problems with traveling pets.

If you cannot accompany your pet, or your pet is too large to travel with checked baggage, you need to contact the cargo department of the airline. You will need to check your pet in at their cargo facility located on airport grounds, but likely not in the terminal.

Your pet will have to travel in a pet cargo crate that is compliant with International Air Transport Association specifications. The crate will have to have adequate ventilation, (all 4 sides on international flights) a spring lock door, sturdy fasteners, (steel in some cases) food and water bowls attached to the door, no wheels, and live animal stickers on the outside of the crate. Your pet needs to be able to stand up and turn around in the crate. Here is more information on IATA-compliant pet crates. If the flight is a long one, we would also recommend a pet pad to keep your pet dry and comfortable.

No matter whether your pet travels in-cabin or cargo, it is crucial to call the airlines before booking your flight to let them know you will be traveling with a pet. Most airlines only allow a certain number of pets on each flight, so it’s best to make your pet’s reservation early.

Visit the Vet

The final step is to visit your vet for a health certificate. We highly recommend this although not all airlines require it. The form should be completed less than 10 days before your date of departure. The health certificate will state that your pet is up to date on immunizations and exams and is free of ticks, fleas, and diseases communicable to humans and other animals. The cost varies depending on your veterinarian, but it’s something you have to do if you want your best buddy to travel with you.

Groom your pet before traveling. Your pet will feel and look better after a bath and combing. Cut back on your pet’s food and feed them about 2 hours prior to flight time. Be sure they are hydrated, and take them for a long walk before heading out to the airport.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Most of it is common sense. We cannot stress enough the importance of preparation. Give yourself enough time to prepare the documentation and acclimate your pet to his/her carrier or crate. Simple steps such as these will go a long way in insuring a pleasant flight for both you and your pet.

More information on flying with your pet dog or cat.

Continental to change Pet Safe Plan Concerning Dangerous Dogs

Update to this post – United has acquired Continental. Find United Airline pet policies

United Air LinesSeveral recent incidents has caused United to re-evaluate its pet policy for transporting certain breeds in cargo through its SafePet Program.

United’s PetSafe Program will be amended in several ways. They will no longer allow Series 700 (giant) pet crates. Additionally, they will no longer allow the following breeds in the  cargo hold:

Dog Breeds: Affenpinscher, American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier/”Amstaff,” Belgian Malinois, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Bulldog, American Bulldog, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Old English Bulldogges, Shorty Bulldogs, Spanish Alano/Spanish Bulldog/Alano Espanol, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chow Chow, English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel, Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff, American Mastiff, Boerboel/South African Mastiff, Bullmastiff, Ca de Bou/Mallorquin Mastiff, Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff, Dogo Argentino/Argentinian Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff, English Mastiff, Fila Brasileiro/Brazilian Mastiff/Cao de Fila, Indian Mastiff/Alangu, Kangal/Turkish Kangal, Neapolitan Mastiff/Mastino Napoletano, Pakastani Mastiff/Bully Kutta, Pyrenean Mastiff, Presa Canario/Perro de Presa Canario/Dogo Canario/Canary Mastiff, Spanish Mastiff / Mastin Espanol, Tibetan Mastiff, Tosa/Tosa Ken/Tosa Inu/Japanese Mastiff/Japanese Tosa, Pekingese, Pug, Dutch Pug, Japanese Pug, Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei, Shih-Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier/”Staffys,” and Tibetan Spaniel.

Cat Breeds: Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan and Persian.

Additionally, United will be comparing all paperwork associated with your pet (health certificate, titre test, rabies vaccination, etc.) to be sure that the breed reference is correct and consistent. This action is to assure the safety of the animals, passengers, and employees.

Owners of breeds that are considered dangerous need to be concerned about this policy change. Pet and passenger safety is of primary concern to the airlines. Obviously, many of these stronger breeds cannot be confined in a plastic cargo crate. Changes that will insure that events do not reoccur must happen in order for pet owners to be able to transport their pets safely.

Keep Your Pet Safe on the Fourth of July

July4 fireworks

July 4th is a day for celebration for all Americans. This day is filled with barbeques, picnics, parades, loud music, laughing, and most of all, fireworks. As with every family/friendly gathering, your pet will want to take part! It is important to keep in mind that the 4th of July can present dangerous and stressful situations for your pet.

The Moore family of Maitland, Florida was visiting friends for only a few hours when they came home to an empty house. Their two year old German Shepherd was gone. The Moores believe that their dog, who wasn’t normally scared of thunder or other loud noises, panicked from the cumulative effects of the fireworks, the excited voices outside, and being left alone inside the house. The dog had frantically broken through the patio door and dug a hole under the fence to search for her family.

The Moore’s story isn’t unique. Dogs and cats often become frightened and frantic by the noise and commotion of Independence Day. According to The Humane Society of America, animal shelters across the country are accustomed to seeing “July 4th” pets—dogs and cats who run off during fireworks celebrations and are rescued by animal control officers or good samaritans who take them to the safety of a local shelter. It happens more than any other time of the year!

Fortunately with a little planning and forethought, you can have a memorable Independence Day knowing your pet is safe and sound. Here is a list of precautions to take to insure your pet is protected:

Get some exercise. Before the merriment starts, take your dog (or cat) for a nice long walk and/or play session. Exercise may be helpful in getting your pet to relax during the party.

Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays. This may sound like fun, but the loud noises and bright lights may aggravate even the most stable of pets.

Do not leave your pet in the car. With only hot air to breathe inside a car, your pet can suffer serious health effects—even death—in a few short minutes. Also, your pet will likely pant more when nervous. Partially opened windows do not provide sufficient air, and they also provide an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.

Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death. Make sure that your fences are not in need of any repair and you do not see signs of holes under them.

If you know that your pet is seriously stressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before the holiday for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety they will experience during fireworks displays.

Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep them company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.

Watch the doors. If you have guests over, advise them to be careful when opening doors to prevent your pet from slipping out unnoticed.

Watch out for signs of distress like change in behavior, lack of interaction, excessive grooming, labored panting, shaking, drooling, crying, barking, spraying, scratching, nausea, aggression or loss of bladder control or appetite.

Consider boarding your pet for the night if you will be out late.

Make sure your pets are microchipped or wearing identification tags so if they do escape, they can be easily identified. Remember to contact your local animal control facility quickly and inquire about your pet with a detailed description. Keep a photo of your pet as it will be helpful for officials and neighbors that may assist in finding your cat or dog.

If you plan to go away for the holiday weekend, read our information on traveling with pets.

A bit of common sense and consideration can go a long way in ensuring a safe and happy holiday for both you and your pet.

Hurricane Season Approaches – Preparing your Pet for Natural Disasters

With hurricane season in full swing, it is important for the pet owner to be prepared and plan prior to a major storm this summer. Natural disasters occur all over the world, and whether it be a flash flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, you will need extra arrangements made to insure your pet’s safety.

Get what you will need in advance

A Pet Survival Kit should be prepared using a waterproof, covered container. It will not take long and will save you time to make other preparations to evacuate. The kit should include:

  • Food and water for 2 weeks
  • Water and food bowls
  • 2 weeks worth of any medications your pet may be taking
  • A photo of you with your pet in the case of separation.
  • Extra leashes and collars with ID tags
  • Puppy training pads in case your dog cannot go outside due to severe weather
  • Cleaning supplies
  • A pet crate or pet carrier large enough for your pet to stand and turn around and pads
  • Treats and toys
  • Blankets or bedding
  • Copies of your pet’s rabies certificate and other health certificates or tests sealed in a zip-lock bag or waterproof container
  • Cat Litter and portable litter box (if necessary)

If you are taking your dog or cat to a pet friendly shelter, you will be required to provide a crate or carrier to contain it. If your pet is not used to  being contained, work with them to get them acclimated. More info about training your pet to be in a crate or carrier.

Plan an evacuation route and shelter from the storm

Besides an emergency kit for your pet, planning an evacuation route for you and your pet is crucial. When your family includes a pet, evacuating will involve extra planning. If you plan to stay nearby, check your local emergency shelter to see if they will accept pets. If they do, you will most likely have to pre-register in advance. If your local shelter does not accept pets, be prepared to check neighboring cities outside of the projected path of the storm. Finding pet friendly hotels or other accommodations well in advance of a natural disaster will help ease the stress.

Whether you plan on evacuating or staying at home, it is crucial that you don’t leave your pet alone. “Abandoning your pet is not an option,” emphasizes Lisa Mendheim, Public Education Coordinator, Broward County Animal Care. “It is cruel and against the law.”

Identify your pet with a microchip

Get your pet microchipped. If, for any reason, you are separated from your pet, a microchip is one sure way they can be identified. Be sure and register your contact information with the chip’s manufacturer. There are also other websites that offer free microchip registration.

Schedule a vet visit 

Shelters will require proof of updated rabies and other vaccinations. If your pet is due, schedule a visit to have this done. Get certificates for their vaccinations. 

Keep your pet clean and groomed

When relocating your dog, keeping them clean and free of  parasites will make things easier for both of you. Keep their nails trimmed as well. Shelters will appreciate that as well.

In short, plan, plan, plan. Pay attention to the weather and know ahead of time whether you will need to evacuate or stay home. Reservations at shelters, kennels, hotels and stables must be made in advance, so make your storm decisions early – your animals are depending on you to keep them safe.

We would love to hear from you! Do you have a personal experience dealing with a natural disaster with your pet? Post your experiences in our blog or forum.

Browse our pet articles for more interesting information about caring for your pet.