Fly the new "pet-friendly" skies

Animal Welfare Specialist
Cathy has worked in the animal welfare field for more than 25 years. As a Director of Public Relations for local and national animal welfare agencies, Cathy developed and managed public relations programs, wrote press materials, and prepared staff to handle media interviews on animal issues.

paw1The best inventions come from solving personal problems. 

For Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder, their dilemma was how to ship Zoe, their Jack Russell Terrier, across the country, safely. They weren’t comfortable letting their favorite pooch ride in the cargo hold of an airplane. So the two entrepreneurs have created the first pet-only airline that lets pets travel in the main cabin, not the cargo hold. The only human passengers will be Pet Attendents who will be walking the aisles ensuring your pets beverage needs are met.

Beginning in mid-July, Pet Airways, will launch its first flight to one of five major cities — New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. They hope the program will “fly” with pet owners who want a safe way to transport and track pets travelling across the country. 

According to Dan Wiesel, president/CEO of Pet Airways: “Currently, most pets traveling by air are transported in the cargo hold and are handled as baggage. The experience is frightening to the pets, and can cause severe emotional and physical harm, even death. This is not what most pet owners want to subject their pets to, but they have had no other choice, until now.”

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, approximately 76 million cats and dogs travel with their owners each year; two million travel by air. Many airlines allow small pets to travel with their owners, stowed under the seat, but most airlines will only accept one or two pets per flight and most must fly in the cargo hold — not something most pet owners are comfortable doing and perhaps for good reason. A study by the San Francisco SPCA, found that of the two million animals transported in the cargo holds of commercial airliners per year, approximately 5,000 are injured in transit.

According to the Animal, Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS), “virtually every major airline has been cited and fined for repeatedly mishandling animals”. As a result of a lack of oxygen and temperature control in the cargo holds, the most common causes of death are suffocation and heat prostration, although one airline was cited for placing a dog too close to a motor, which burned the animal.

Creating an airline solely for the transportation of pets is a great way to address the “cargo-hold” problem. Most pet owners are going to be more comfortable flying their pet in the main cabin of an airline solely for pets and tracking their pets progress on their website along the way. It sounds like an idea whose time has definitely come.

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