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Flying with or shipping your dog? Is he carry-on or in the cargo bay with luggage? How do you prepare him for the flight? What is the risk? Pet death statistics?


March 19, 2018

Barbara "BJ" Andrews, Editor-In-Chief, SAAB


What can you do to insure the safety of your beloved dog when moving your family across the country? Owner or professional handler, if your dog isn’t allowed as cabin carry-on (too big, overbooked, etc.) how can you protect him prior to boarding and while in the air? This professional pre-flight information and advice (below) can help you prevent a bad outcome.


Sad snafus are not limited to in-flight problems. In 2015 a retired U.S. Marine and his wife were not allowed to board an American Airlines flight because he had his Service Dog with him! You would think dog-related flight problems had been resolved by 2018 but here’s what you need to know about your dog’s pre-flight preparation and in-flight safety.


We checked airline animal safety ratings (see below). From a practical point, you have few choices when flying your dog. We sorted through “Live animal shipping safety statistics” so that we could provide you with this report on airline-related pet deaths.


Top listed in animal fatalities is United. “United had 53 animals die on its flights from January 2012 through February 2017 according to National Transportation Safety Board.” ~ USA Today. In fairness to United Airlines, they probably fly the most live animals since the 2013 merger with Continental Airlines.


Seeking the business other airlines shunned, United launched their Pets Welcome{1}, i.e. “Pet Safe” program. With reasonable size limitations, United Airlines allows pets in cabin with owners. The cabin policy is currently threatened due to the utter stupidity of a United flight attendant! See details below on the death of the French Bulldog the flight attendant crammed into the overhead storage.


Great Dane owners will never forget the 2015 flight that killed the Parks’ dog on a Continental flight from Hawaii to Seattle. Kendra and Travis Parks would have paid anything to have “Tucker” in the cabin but due to his size, that wasn’t possible. So they had a Dane-size crate custom built and he was stowed in the cargo hold. The horror that dog went through is unthinkable. “Tucker was covered in vomit, feces, saliva and blood” barely conscious and unable to respond to his owners. The magnificent dog had to be euthanized.


According to DOT statistics, 26 animals died while being transported on planes in 2016, a rate of 0.5 per 10,000 animals transported. A third of those deaths occurred on United Airlines ~ The Guardian. We were unable to verify the percentage of animals flown by United but can safely assume it is the highest by far.


This just in from Fred Lanting via Newser{2} – The AP reports United Airlines is “investigating after mistakenly flying a Kansas family's dog to Japan instead of Missouri. Kara Swindle and her two children flew from Oregon to Kansas City, Missouri, Tuesday March 13th.” When they went to the cargo facility (why wasn’t the dog brought out to them with baggage?) to pick up their 10-year-old German Shepherd they were instead presented with a Great Dane dog, thankfully not the one mentioned above!


But compounding the stress on their elderly German Shepherd Dog, he is scheduled for an 11-hour flight back to Kansas City. What, if anything is being done to prepare him for the repeat ordeal? Has he been properly exercised and fed just enough to prevent the known risk of bloat (gastric torsion) in large breed dogs? Will he survive?


ANSWER! Late Friday the 16th United Airlines flew the elderly dog home in their corporate jet! Now that’s service!


But that was after this 2018 flying-with-your-dog headline “Dog stuffed into overhead bin by flight attendant”. Here is an (abbreviated) eyewitness account of the little French Bulldog’s horrid and inexcusable death.


June Lara saw a French Bulldog similar to her own dog in the United Airlines waiting area. When they boarded she was seated just behind the family of three. She said “I… thought myself lucky - who doesn't when they get to sit near a puppy? However, the flight attendants of flight UA1284 (insisted) that the innocent animal was better off crammed inside the overhead container without air and water…They assured the safety of the family's pet so wearily, the mother agreed.


“There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel. There was no movement as his family called his name. I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10 month old puppy. I cried with them three minutes later as she sobbed over his lifeless body. My heart broke with theirs as I realized he was gone… Today, I boarded my last United Airlines flight.” signed “R.I.P Papacito


What can you do to prepare your dog for a flight?


√ Have a current (within 10 days) health certificate and proof of current rabies vaccine.

Note: get the same health certificate before a road trip across state lines. Many states can fine you and/or confiscate your dog for outrageous “bail out” fees.

√ Do not feed the dog for 4 hours prior to boarding.

√ Encourage him to empty bladder and bowel before entering air cargo or terminal.

√ Take a bottle of electrolytes-water to quickly re-hydrate him after the flight. EST 2002 © 1803



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