Thursday, February 16, 2006

Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

This in the New York Times is frightening. A Wippet returning home after participating in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show was lost at Kennedy Airport by Delta Airlines. This is not a surprise to me since I worked as a Aircraft Dispatcher for Pioneer Airways out at the old Stapleton Airport in Denver.

One time a ramp agent at one of our outlying towns put six puppies in the nose cone of one of our aircraft on a flight to Denver. The puppies froze to death. I would sometimes work out of our ramp office and I know of several instances where dogs escaped from the cargo area and ran out onto one of the runways. One time a dog was loaded onto a flight heading the opposite direction of its owner because the "baggage smasher" misread the destination ticket.

Under the The Safe Air Travel For Animals Act:
Airlines are required to report to the Secretary of Transportation any incident involving an animal who is injured, lost, or killed during airline transport. The secretary must then make the information available to the public in the Department of Transportation's monthly publication, Air Travel Consumer Report.
-The Humane Society of the United States

Between May of 2005 and December of 2005 there have been 22 deaths, 17 injuries and 4 losses reported to the Department of Transportation. Here is a breakdown by airline:

Alaska Airlines: one death, three injuries, and one animal lost
American Airlines: five deaths
Comair: one injury
Continental Airlines: seven deaths and five animals injured
Delta AirLines: one death and one animal lost
Frontier Airlines: one animal injured
Hawaiian Airlines: three animals injured
Horizon Airlines: two deaths and one animal injured
Midwest Airlines: one death
Northwest Airlines: two injuries and one animal lost
SkyWest Airlines: one death
United Airlines: three deaths
US Airways: one death, one injury, and one animal lost

The fact that Continental Airlines has killed seven animals is not that surprising to me since it was Continental Cargo that handled our baggage and animals in transit are considered baggage in the airline industry. Think about this the next time you see a baggage cart sitting next to your aircraft on a hot, hot or cold, cold day. If you are traveling with a pet- your baby will be sitting on that cart.

I don't plan on putting my dogs on any commercial airline in the near future.

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