Leading Animal Transportation Association Responds to DOT Pet Travel Incident Report

HOLLY LAKE RANCH, Texas, July 12 /PRNewswire/ — The Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International, Inc. (IPATA) today issued its response to the much-anticipated release of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) very first Animal Incident Report.

The report, appearing in the July issue of the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report and online at http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/ of a newly enacted mandate requiring the federal agency to report monthly the “loss, injury or death” of any warm- or cold-blooded pet that occurs while the animal is traveling in the care, custody and control of a scheduled domestic passenger airline.

Gale Young, president of IPATA, said, “We applaud the DOT for publishing the Animal Incident Report, as the statistics fully support our position that air travel is the safest means of transport for pets. These extremely low incidents decisively dispute the exaggerated claims by some who have asserted that thousands of animals are maimed or killed onboard aircraft every year.”

Ms. Young continued, “The pet owner should note, however, that the mandate does not require airlines to report total monthly volumes of animals transported so that the incidents of pet loss, injury or death may be put in perspective. Even one occurrence is regrettable, but, for an airline shipping thousands of pets every month, the number is certainly more understandable. Second, not all airlines are required to report the data to the DOT, only domestic passenger airlines transporting pets and only if they have an incident to report. Thus, if an airline does not appear in the report, it could mean that it simply does not carry pets at all, carried no pets during the reporting period (such as during weather embargos) or had no incidents to report. Raw numbers may not really tell the entire story.

“We have found that many incidents occur not because of anything the airline did or failed to do, but because the pet owner has not acted responsibly. For example, he may not have chosen a safe kennel/crate for his pet or the most ideal flight or routing, or he may have tranquilized his pet against the advice of the airlines and the American Veterinary Medical Association. And, of course, the pet owner may be unaware that his animal has a pre-existing medical condition that put the pet at high risk.”

Overall, IPATA strongly supports air as the safest and most humane mode of transport for pets and cautions that, although the pet owner may encounter many airline restrictions, he must realize that the rules exist for the safety and well-being of the animal rather than for the owner’s convenience. Because pet transportation policies vary greatly from airline to airline, an owner must do thorough research before selecting an airline. Indeed, some carriers specialize in pet transportation and have superior policies and handling programs in place.

Dr. Walter Woolf, a Tampa, Florida veterinarian with many years of experience in the pet travel industry, suggests the following guidelines to those planning to transport a pet by air:

* Take time to prepare the pet for air travel with pre-flight
conditioning to its kennel/crate.
* Make sure that the pet’s flight kennel provides ample room for the
animal to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably.
* At all costs, avoid tranquilizers and sedatives, as these potent drugs
can have adverse effects on pets at flight altitudes.
* Reduce a pet’s solid food intake four to six hours prior to the
* To avoid onboard dehydration, encourage pre-flight water consumption
by the pet.

Dr. Woolf further suggests that, “Following these rules can serve to reduce the incidences of pet loss, injury and death. We’d all like to see zeroes in the next DOT report and in every one thereafter.”

Formed in 1979, the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International, Inc. is a worldwide network of professionals who are actively involved with shipping family pets by air. IPATA supports air travel for pets as accompanied baggage and through the cargo system as being the safest, most expedient and humane means of moving animals throughout the United States and around the world.


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