DOT Report Outlines 2014 Pet Injury And Fatality Numbers On Airlines

Planes, trains or automobiles… never has family travel been easier, right? Not so fast! Official numbers from 2014 regarding air travel with pets may be hazardous to their health.


Sadly, while our vacation checklists may include comfortable walking shoes, a good book and sunblock, they often fail to tackle the needs of our best buddy, who doesn’t always get first class treatment by the airlines.


Related: What To Do If Your Dog Gets Sick While Traveling


According to recently released figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in 2014 not all members of our family made it to their destination in good shape… or alive. It reported 17 animal fatalities and 26 injuries. On the top of the list was United Airlines, with five deaths and 13 injuries. All making the list was Alaska Airlines (3 deaths, 11 injuries); Delta Airlines (4 deaths, 0 injuries); American (3 deaths, 0 injuries); Hawaiian (2 deaths, 0 injuries); and Sky West (0 deaths, 2 injuries).


Related: A Jet Setters Guide To Dog Travel Insurance


While most of the injuries and deaths occurred when pets escaped their cages and were either injured in the process or hit by vehicles, some were attributed to the stress of air travel – particularly those with underlying conditions. And in some instances airlines have actually stopped accepting short-nosed or snub-nosed breeds such as Pugs and English Bulldogs where the anxiety is known to be particularly severe.


But this doesn’t mean Rover has to miss out on precious vaycay time! Because many airlines require a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel you will be having a conversation with your vet. They can outline the details for pet air travel in cargo and help you decide on next steps. He or she can also write an Acclimation Certificate that will waive the low temperature Federal regulation as dictated by the Animal Welfare Act.


And remember that flying is an unnatural experience for our pets with air pressure, different smells and sounds causing anxiety. For those pets relegated to flying “cargo class”, here are a few basic tips to help ease the experience:


  • Secure his personal space by crating him before you enter a busy airport.
  • Make sure his favourite blanket or toys are in his crate – anything that is familiar to him and will provide comfort and entertainment.
  • Ensure anything that might cause injury (thinking leashes, etc.) is removed from the crate.
  • Don’t let him begin his journey on a full tummy or bladder. You wouldn’t want to and neither does he. He should fast at least six hours before being crated, with a poop and scoop stop as close to departure time as possible.
  • Do make sure Rover has access to water sufficient to keep him hydrated during the flight.
  • And save the tearful goodbyes for Aunt Shirley’s holiday visit! If you’re upset, he’s upset. If you’re calm, he’ll be calm.


Lastly, don’t discount other travel options. Amtrak piloted a Carry-On Pet program last year with 145 passengers signed up and growing. Sadly, in Canada unless dogs qualify as supporting special needs, pets are considered “baggage” and are seconded to VIA’s “sometimes heated” storage cars.


So while we’ve all heard the phrase “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”… for your pet it really is!


[Source: AAHA]

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

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