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July 5, 2012

The HSUS Supports the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Proposed Rule to Protect Pets on Planes

Greater safeguards for animals ensured with stronger reporting requirements

  • The rule would help protect dogs and cats traveling in the cargo hold of a commercial airplane. RollingEarth/iStopckphoto.com

The Humane Society of the United States praises the U.S. Department of Transportation for proposing to strengthen regulations regarding the transportation of animals on airplanes.

Under the parameters of a proposed rule, 36 airlines would be required to report any companion animal incidents that happen in their cargo holds, up from 15 airlines currently required to provide annual reports to the DOT. Carriers also would have to report the number of animal losses, injuries and deaths and the total number of animals transported each year.

The HSUS often receives complaints of animals in airplane cargo areas dying or suffering from injuries, often because of excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, scarcity of oxygen, and rough handling. Animals have also been lost during commercial flights. 

“We applaud the Department of Transportation for proposing to expand this rule because it will keep dogs and cats safer on planes,” said Inga Fricke, director of sheltering and pet care issues for The HSUS. “Requiring stronger reporting requirements of airline carriers will force carriers to better handle animals during transport, providing the oversight needed. It would also give consumers clarity when choosing an animal friendly airline, and travelers would be able to compare carriers’ rates of animal deaths and injuries.”

Another significant change to the rule proposed is that the regulations also would apply to dogs and cats being shipped for commercial sale. Because of the growth in online sales of animals, particularly dogs, many operators of inhumane commercial breeding facilities, or puppy mills, transport dogs to pet stores and to new owners via airplanes. The rule would also cover dogs and cats being shipped and sold for experimentation. The proposed requirements for tracking and reporting data on animals shipped for commercial sale will provide vital data on the scope of these industries, and should improve the handling and welfare of those animals.

The HSUS recommends that pet owners avoid traveling by air with their pets. If air travel is unavoidable, it is best to carry the animal on board in a pet carrier kept under a seat in the passenger area. Pet owners should avoid flying pets as cargo unless absolutely necessary. The HSUS has tips for pet owners who must travel with their pets at humanesociety.org/airtravel.

Media Contact:  Rebecca Basu, 301.258.3152, rbasu@humanesociety.org

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