Animal Deaths in Airplane Cargo Holds Inspires New Transparency

Monday, July 7, 2014 - 2:15pm
Pekingese sitting in open suitcase

Every year, hundreds of animals are lost, injured or killed during transport in the cargo holds of airplanes. Many of these incidents are preventable, so we are glad the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will formally address this animal welfare problem and expand airline accountability for these tragedies.

The DOT has just finalized a rule (effective January 1, 2015) that will increase transparency around these incidents and allow the public and policymakers to assess the full spectrum of safety issues associated with transporting animals as cargo. 

The new rule for the first time requires airlines to report incidents involving not just household pets, but commercial shipments of dogs and cats—including puppies and kittens heading from a breeder to a pet store. It also more than doubles the number of airlines that must report incidents involving the loss, injury or death of an animal during air transport.

We, along with other animal protection organizations, urged the DOT to require incident reporting for all species of commercially shipped animals but the agency declined to do so, stating that this would be unduly burdensome to airlines.

While transporting animals in airplane cargo holds is never advisable, when it cannot be avoided you can make these journeys as safe and stress-free as possible by following the ASPCA’s Top 10 Air Travel Tips

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