Take Action: Animals Flown as Cargo Get a First-Class Upgrade

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 11:15am
cat in a carrier

Guest blog written by Deborah Dubow Press, ASPCA Regulatory Affairs Manager.

We frequently hear tragic news stories involving animals traveling in airplane cargo holds, and it’s no wonder—these animals are exposed to lots of dangers in transit. They can be left on the tarmac in the hottest summer months, transported in unsafe carriers that do not meet humane standards, or be carelessly lost in the shuffle of air cargo traffic.

Currently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to report the losses, injuries and deaths of pets only. Reporting requirements exclude commercial shipments of animals—like a batch of puppies heading from a breeder to a pet store. This means that there are many appalling incidents the public never hears about. 

The DOT Responds
A new rule proposed by the DOT could lead to greater transparency by airlines and help give people a clearer picture of the risks involved in transporting animals as cargo. The new rule would require airlines to report incidents involving commercially shipped cats and dogs, as well as more than double the number of airlines required to report incidents.  

While the proposed rule is better than the one in place now, it still has room for improvement. For instance, it doesn’t cover all animals transported as part of a commercial air shipment—only dogs and cats. 

Take Action!
The Department of Transportation is accepting comments until August 28. Please tell them that all animals deserve to be protected during air transport while being shipped as cargo. In your comments, please include the following:

  • You support the DOT’s decision to extend coverage to all dogs and cats.
  • Reporting requirements are essential to inform consumers about the risks associated with transporting animals by air, and people deserve this information so they can make informed decisions about traveling safely with their pets.
  • You want the rule to extend reporting requirements to all animals shipped commercially, not just dogs and cats.

Go to to submit comments directly to the DOT.

Add new comment



Stacia Josephson

Please upgrade the treatment of pets. They are already terrified when traveling; please don't make them suffer more by how they are treated. Extreme temperatures are deadly to animals too!


Animals are living, breathing creatures and family members, not suitcases or backpacks. I nearly lost a dog once due to the barbaric regulations in place regarding animal transport. It is way past time to change them.


Our pets are family members, not cargo. I support DOTS decision to extend coverage to all cats and dogs.


Please upgrade the pets do not make them fly as cargo!

Maggie Carmel

Pets are part of our family, this is why many times when we have to go somewhere we don't or can't leave them behind and they must travel with us.

Please make sure that this happens. You always want to make sure that human passengers are comfortable, well this should be the same for animals.

Kathleen Lahti

Any type of animal transport should be done safely, but pets are family members. Upgrade their conditions!


i have to say that i have never fly with my pet on the airplane because i have heard many things of dead pets as cargo. I would like more flexibility for pets as passangers, or better treatment for them. If the airlines could assure the pet owners that your animal would be safe in his journey. i would fly more but now i just can take her in my car.thanks


I did send a strong comment to DOT and encourage others to do the same. I personally am against flying any/all animals as "cargo" in commercial airlines. It is fraught with dangers both in the air and on the ground. Too many things can go wrong and the innocent animal/s pay with injury and/or death. They deserve better than that. Drive if you must take your pet with you or take it in the cabin with you or leave it home with a reliable pet sitter. The latter is the best choice. They will be safe in their home environment where they are most comfortable and will be there to happily greet you when you come home.

Julia Halverson

Animals should NEVER be flown as cargo. it isn't safe and is very uncomfortable.


When we were moving back from Germany to Cincinnati, OH area back in 2007, our cat was lost in transit for 4 1/2 day! Flight guideline online said to secure 48hr of food to carrier, in case of emergency. We did, but airline took it off due to the ban on liquids. I felt really bad as he had no litter box either! I was devastated when we arrived in Cincinnati, OH with NO CAT! He never made the flight when we left on Saturday! They finally delivered him to us in his carrier the following Wednesday night about 11pm. Our poor baby! Five years later he is fine though. I filed a complaint with airline & we got his ticket price back ($75) I can only imagine what he endured during those 4+ days!