You may already have read the tragic story of Kathleen Considine whose beloved dog Jacob died after being bumped off his connecting flight in Chicago and held overnight for 20 hours.
If you haven’t, it will break your heart.
You may not know that the US Department of Transportation tracks animal transport incidents and reports this information to the USDA.
The Animal Welfare Institute offers a great backgrounder on the origins of these reporting requirements.
Animals rights groups have appealed to Congress asking for regulations which ensure a standard of animal handling consistent with safety and well-being, but these proposed regulations have not been passed into law.
It’s important for pet owners—and those transporting animals by air for other purposes—to file reports of any mishadling. Accurate statistics on incidents of injury or loss of life can guide the drafting of future pet and animal air transport protections, but those statistics can only be gathered through consistent reporting by those affected.
The USDOT pet travel page gives the contact details for reporting incidents as follows:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
APHIS, Animal Care Staff
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737
In fairness, airlines around the world transport animals every day, and many have special facilities—even dedicated aircraft—for these purposes. But that is of little comfort to travellers like Kathleen, suffering the loss of a beloved member of the family.
We have a problem in the industry with carriage of animals of questionable classification carried in the cabin as emotional support animals. But it’s understandable, when reading stories like that of Jacob, that pet owners would want to do anything possible to avoid checking their pets in the hold. This is a problem which doesn’t have an easy solution.
To make matters worse, a new Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump, which restricts government regulations, could make all passenger rights regulations even harder to put on the books.
Still, while the USDOT number works, pet owners and all travellers are encouraged to excercise their right to complain.
Calling and writing the USDOT might prevent another pet from suffering as Jacob did.