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A Warning to Pet Owners

Cindy Loose

Given the ongoing frigid weather and continued airport delays in some parts of the country, the Humane Society of the United States is urging pet owners to keep their pets on the ground for the next several days.

It's never a good idea to fly pets in cargo -- the only place all but the smallest pets can sit -- in either very hot or very cold weather, but given the delays (which could take a lot of time to sort out), this is the worst of times. Animals kept in cargo holds for extended periods are at risk of hypothermia.

Airlines allow passengers to bring small pets into the passenger cabin if the pet is kept in a carrier small enough to fit under seats. Larger pets are shipped in transport crates in a plane's cargo hold. The temperature in cargo holds varies widely depending on the weather conditions.

The HSUS advises air travelers to leave pets at home in the care of a pet sitter or to delay travel until delays are less likely.

"Anytime someone places their pet in the care of an airline baggage handler they are taking a risk," said Wayne Pacelle, head of the HSUS. "That risk increases significantly during extreme temperatures."

Check out the Web site of the HSUS for more tips.

By Cindy Loose |  February 16, 2007; 9:35 AM ET  | Category:  Cindy Loose
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Service dogs and working dogs are allowed in cabin. My sister's FEMA and cadaver border collies fly in cabin and not in crate. She transported a 8 week pup back in cabin.

And why do you take advice from HSUS which supports the terrorist organziation PETA!

Posted by: Wrong | February 16, 2007 10:34 AM

This sucks. Airlines should make better arrangements for pets.
I'd pay for it.

Posted by: Deanna | February 16, 2007 10:44 AM

Why are we bringing the pets to begin with? Unless you're moving somewhere (or like showing a dog, or some other major thing), I can't see how anyone could think the animal wouldn't be happier at home than in some airplane because the owner couldn't bear to leave them -- cabinside or cargoside. Maybe I'm missing something....?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:45 AM

two people who showed five dogs at westminster were at LaGuardia early wednesday and the poor dogs were in crates b/c all the flights were cancelled. Could these fools not see that it was a horrbily icy day and no planes would go to Texas (where they were headed) or anywhere else? I really feel for the dogs, who were penned in their crates for who knows how long. This time of year, or in extreme heat, flying with any kind of animal taht must go in cargo is simply inhumane.

Posted by: Ritamae | February 16, 2007 11:13 AM

I only shipped a dog once and I was pretty careful on when I did it. She had to ride in cargo (she is too big for "under seat" and a rescue, not a rescuer).
Granted, the shape she was in when I got her was less than stellar, but that was not my or the airlines doing.
I can see why dogs would need to be shipped around by cargo, but I too wish there were another way. Frankly, I'm none too happy about cats being in the cabin (inhaler, please) and I can see people potentially being the same way about dogs.

Maybe we need special flights?

Posted by: preggers | February 16, 2007 11:44 AM

I had to fly with my dog for a year long overseas assignment and let me tell you, I was on pins and needles the whole way! There are so many horror stories about mistreated animals, dogs left on hot tarmacs for hours etc. You need to do CAREFUL research as to which is the best carrier for the animal, as opposed to shopping for flights based on price. I would highly recommend Lufthansa. They were very good with my dog and treated him very well.

Posted by: lca | February 16, 2007 12:08 PM

I have taken 2 cats with me when I have had to work overseas for an extended period of time. I had to be careful which airlines to choose. For example, going to southern Africa I sent them on Lufthansa in the summer, since Lufthansa made a point of saying that the animals would be kept in an air conditioned building until ready to be loaded onto the plane, while United would not promise they would not sit on the tarmac for prolonged periods of time, and would not take them if the temp reached a certain level (no such problem with Lufthansa). I think it was American which said they would not take pets on a DC-10, due to the plane´s baggage hold not being suitable. And always be sure the cargo hold is pressurized, and that you can take your pets even if other people also do (some commuter planes have limits).

Posted by: Steve | February 16, 2007 12:45 PM

I had my puppy shipped to me as cargo. The only problem was finding the proper cargo area at Dulles, where he was safely waiting with friendly people. The only reason I'd hesitate to fly him now (except on days when the airports are messed up, and aside from the high fees) is that he's gotten afraid of certain types of noises, which he'd probably hear while inside the plane.

Most US carriers say that the compartment used to carry animals is climate/pressure-controlled to exactly the same standards as the passenger cabin, and animals are last-loaded and first-unloaded. The temperature restrictions provide an extra level of protection, in case an animal is held on the tarmac.

Show-dogs are crate-trained, meaning that the crates are used as the dog's den and bed, so the dog feels comfortable and secure in it. Under the circumstances, the the Westminster dogs were probably happier than they would have been on leashes. Also, Ag. Dept. regulations require crates used for shipping to be large enough for the dog to stand naturally, turn around comfortably and stretch out when lying down. I'd happily be crated when flying if it meant I had all that room!

Posted by: GJ | February 16, 2007 5:44 PM

Taking a pet in the cabin can be a costly proposition. We frequently fly coast-to-coast with our cat (we go for a few months at a time, so just leaving her home is not an option), and it can cost more for the cat to fly than for her owners: AA charges $80 one-way, and UAL charges $85. And, to top it off, in both cases, the cat carrier is considered the passenger's one piece of carryon luggage!

Posted by: RAK | February 16, 2007 6:13 PM

Taking a pet in the cabin can be a costly proposition. We frequently fly coast-to-coast with our cat (we go for a few months at a time, so just leaving her home is not an option), and it can cost more for the cat to fly than for her owners: AA charges $80 one-way, and UAL charges $85. And, to top it off, in both cases, the cat carrier is considered the passenger's one piece of carryon luggage!

Posted by: RAK | February 16, 2007 6:14 PM

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