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.

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All animals deserve to be protected


Pets are not cargo and therefore should not be flown as cargo! They should sit in comfort with their owners. However, please up your cargo standards for those animals that do need to be flown as cargo for whatever reason so that they can fly in comfort and with minimal-no danger.

Wende Boylan

Commercial airlines exist to provide a service to their customers who are also, often, the custodians of (an) animal(s). All animals, while in the care of these airlines, should be afforded humane treatment.
I have a bird, and would be just as devastated at his loss as I would at the loss of my dog or cat. I am sure that other "exotic" pet owners share my feelings. I urge you to extend this rule's reporting requirements to include ALL animals shipped commercially, not just dogs and cats.


Pets should travel safely! Not in cargo!

Amber Marienthal

Animals are NOT cargo. They should receive the same humane treatment you would give your own beloved pet. NO ANIMAL should suffer in cargo.

Sylvia Gonzalez

I have never nor would ever check in my pets as cargo. They are a part of my family and i do not trust what can happen to them or how they would be treated. Laws that are humane need to be created.


These animals are part of a family! Please treat them with respect and upgrade the care before, during & after transport!


I lived in Chile and found my dogs in the street there. I subsequently had them as part of my family in Chile for several years. When the decision to move back to the United States was made, I brought my dogs with me. There was no other option than to bring them as luggage, yes, unfortunately that meant they had to travel in the undercarriage of the plane.

To those who commented and say "just don't do it", there is often no other option. Was I to leave my family members (my two dogs) in Chile? I don't think so. They ARE a part of my family, which is why the decision was made to bring them with me, as I would any members of my family.

The answer is to IMPROVE the care of animals traveling via air, not to eliminate it. Thank you ASPCA for promoting the regulation of air travel. It is unrealistic and impractical to eliminate its use.

Monika Teal

I once watched, from my boarding gate, a baggage handler tease my dog, who was in her cage ready to go into baggage. She was already extremely stressed, and this guy was having a great time at her expense. I pointed it out to the ticket agent at the gate, and she brushed it off like no big deal. I will never forget feeling so helpless and so guilty for putting my dog through this trauma!

Not only are pets considered family, but let's talk in terms the airlines understand--MONEY! It costs a DAMN lot of money to fly your pet and they should be required to treat it compassionately and gingerly and be held accountable when they don't. Period.