Recent headlines detailing airline mishaps involving dogs may have instilled doubt in the minds of pet owners that their animals will be safe in transit.
But data provided by the federal government, as well as the professional experience of a North Texas businesswoman who has successfully shipped thousands of pets over the last 20 years, indicate that mistakes are the outlier and far from the norm.
“A lot of the negative is sensationalized by the media. They do not focus on the good stuff,” said Angela Passman, owner of Rockwall-based World Pet Travel.
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Last month, United Airlines was involved in two, highly-publicized incidents – one in which a dog died after a flight attendant reportedly told its owner to place it in an overhead bin, and another where a dog was mistakenly sent to Japan instead of Kansas City.
However, according to statistics provided by the Department of Transportation, those situations are far from an indication that the business of shipping animals is a dangerous one.
In 2017, domestic airlines transported 506,994 animals, of which 24 died, 15 were hurt and one was lost, according to the DOT. That puts the incident rate at roughly one for every 12,674 animals transported.
Travelers can often do themselves and their animals a great service by being as prepared as possible, according to Passman. That includes properly marking the kennels that their animals will be traveling in with information including the name and description of the animal, its originating airport, its destination, its flight number and other basic information including a photograph of the animal.
“When animals are transiting through an airport they are most often taken out of their kennels for a potty break. They get a chance to rehydrate, eat,” Passman said. “When [an airline worker] takes [an animal] out of the temporary kennel and puts him back into his crate his picture is there. It is kind of mistake proof. You are not going to put the wrong dog in the wrong kennel.”
A common mistake that pet owners make is waiting until the last minute to handle the travel arrangements for their animal, according to Passman. At a minimum, Passman prefers to have two weeks to properly plan for an animal’s transport.
In addition, many of her clients have balked at the price associated with shipping an animal on an airplane.
For example, Passman said that the cost to send a Chihuahua on a domestic flight can easily be between $700 to $1,000. And the cost to send a Doberman on an international flight can be much more expensive – between $2,000 and $3,000.
More than anything else, Passman stresses that someone who is considering shipping their animal to contract with the services of a professional, like herself, who is a member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) which is a network of legitimate and certified pet shippers.