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



Tammy Lyssy

Pets feel fear,and get scared just like humans.They should be treated with respect, and kindness.

Lauren Dla

Pets are members of a family and should be treated as such. If you wouldn't ship your baby in cargo, then don't do it to your pet.

Kathy McCoy

Cargo is for cargo, NOT for living beings!

Melissa Peterson

I commend you for extending your reporting to incidents involving ALL cats and dogs flown commercially. However, I would implore you to extend this rule to ALL animals: bunnies, reptiles, etc- any animal that is flown in commercial planes. It is not only the fair thing to do to give consumers more accurate information but it is the humane thing to do to keep the industry responsible for what happens to animals.

Mary Ellen

It's time to change how we transport our family pets, putting them in cargo is not acceptable. We're upset with Romney for strapping his dog to the top of his car, well, this is kind of the same thing. Our pets are family members, not luggage! I am not putting my dogs on an airplane until this changes!

Patricia Stone

Our pets as well as all animals that are transported should be handled with greater care. These are living things, not just baggage. The whole transportation experience must be confusing and frightening at best, so more humane transport methods for all animals need to be put in place.

Hilda De Luna

Please help the poor animals that have to travel by airplane

salle huber

Remember Katrina? And how many people refused to leave their homes because their animals couldn't come along to be rescued? People's pets mean a lot to many cases, they are like their children. Support pet owners by taking good care of their pets.

Thank you so much for taking one more step towards keeping our animals safe when flying.


I just recently moved from Germany to the US, my dog did fly with me. We came on Delta Airlines and they do have strict rules about shipping an animal. My Charly just was fine when I picked him up. Well, he did not fly cargo. But I was told by the airline that sometimes it would be better to ship animals cargo for excemple: If there are temperatures below freezing cargo would be better because the animal will be in a room wich is temperature . Delta airlines is also not shipping animals if it is to hot. So,it is on the pet owner to find out what is safe and what not for there pet.

Anne Sadovsky

My sister has no one but me, but she lives in California and I am in Texas. She has a 12 pound dog that airlines argue is too large to fit under the seat because he is too tall...really? So she never gets to come visit because she has no one to take care of her best friend Max. She would never check him as cargo!!!