When it comes to pets on planes, fly the friendlier skies

Most all veterinarians in clinical practice have written health certificates for animals to fly, and have explained why sedatives aren’t a good idea. But can we do more to make flying safer for pets on planes, especially those flying in the hold? The answer is yes.

I love having print-outs readily available for client education (and you can find a lot of them for free in our Digital Media Kit). When it comes to putting pets on planes, wouldn’t you love to be on the front end of the conversation? You could strongly advise again putting some pets — the elderly, the chronically ill, the obese, the brachycephalic — in the cargo holds under any conditions. You could advise on how to get a pet comfortable in the shipping crate in the weeks before the flight.

As Veterinarian’s Money Digest makes clear, you could also provide your clients with federal data on which airlines have been safer for pets than others. From the article:

The most recent Air Travel Consumer Report, released this month, presents these statistics for the period from January to December 2017. Only four U.S. airlines that transport animals — of the 17 included in the report — reported animal loss, injury or death last year.

The report also contains the individual redacted reports for each animal-related incident.

One report from Alaska Airlines describes a situation in which a Shiba Inu attempted to exit its kennel by chewing through it, causing the dog to become trapped in the narrow hole and asphyxiating itself. And a report from Delta Air Lines describes an unresponsive kitten upon arrival at its destination; a necropsy revealed the kitten died from enteritis caused by intestinal feline coronavirus with secondary spiral bacteria.

United Airlines was the reluctant star in many news articles last year due to its seemingly constant issues with animal transportation. In fact, one-third of all animal deaths on U.S. flights over the past five years have occurred on United Airlines planes. With 18 animal deaths and 13 animal injuries reported in 2017, United remains in the top spot with the most animal deaths of any U.S. airline.

Read the rest. And while United has the worst record, they do have one of the easiest to understand guides I’ve seen on shipping pets on planes. And do notice context: Airlines have shipped thousands and thousands of animals every year, the overwhelming majority of them without harm.

An aside: The UK show, “Animal Airport,” is a fascinating look behind the  scenes at the people who handle pets arriving or connecting at London’s Heathrow Airport. The series is available on Netflix.