Traveling With Pets Safely
Research airport dog parks. If connecting between flights, owners should walk their dogs before the plane takes off again, and many airports now have dog parks just outside their terminals. The website petflight.com supplies directions to those pet parks.
Plan ahead when your pet flies solo. When a pet has to fly without its owner in the plane, it must travel as cargo. For those unaccompanied flights, planning becomes key. Because reservations do not exist for cargo travel, pets may have a long wait for an available flight. That's when pets are vulnerable to illness, injury or loss. Choosing priority or counter-to-counter shipping of a pet reduces his wait in the airport baggage room or on the tarmac, the AMVA says.
Most pet advocacy groups urge booking a direct flight for all air travel with pets, especially those traveling in cargo unaccompanied. "This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel," the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said.
Consider a pet travel service. "Ensure the animal is healthy enough to endure the stressful conditions and is checked on during the trip. An animal should never be shipped unaccompanied," the AWI says. If you can't go with your pet, look into hiring a pet travel service to coordinate all aspects of pickup, shipment and delivery.
Prepare your pet's crate. Owners should provide a crate big enough for the pet to turn around, but not so big that the pet can be bruised during a bumpy flight. A plastic bag containing dry food and feeding instructions on top of the crate is handy in case of delays.
A small bowl of frozen water inside the crate insures a supply of fresh water and prevents spills. Be careful to avoid ice cubes, which pose a choking hazard, as do toys and muzzles.
Pet insurance may be an option. Blanton, the CEO of Atlantic Airlines, offers up one final suggestion to get airport personnel to provide extra care. "Consider insuring your pet for $10,000," he says. "The amount of this coverage is minimal and it will mean that greater attention will be given to your pet." In other words, that fee will "buy" more oversight of your pet's welfare as it wends its way through the perils and pitfalls of airline transport.
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