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



Ginger Boehne

treat all animals humanely

Gilda Varela

My comment has to do with the airline approved animal crates. I purchased one from Remington through petco..cost close to $100...they advertised that the crate would hold any of my pits got out...I emailed them informing them that the dog was supposed to be shipped to glad we didn't he might have gotten out in the airplane and possibly killed...they should not advertise that they are guaranteed against a dog getting out and taking a chance that they could get out in the cargo section of the airplane and getting killed...I was not satisfied with their answer...and their guarantees.

Penny Hammack

I used to work for an airline. One time when I was checking in for a flight the customer in front of me had two dogs that looked like dachsands but were way larger, about 2 1/2 feet long and hefty. The customer had been told that to carry an animal in the cabin they had to fit in a carrier under the seat, about 9 inches high. The customer was insisting on putting the dogs in a carrier and carrying them on board. It was obvious to all of us standing in line that there was no way that the dogs would fit in an onboard carrier without cutting large pieces off of them.

Penny Hammack

2nd comment,
One time when I worked for the airline there was a strike that involved 5 major airlines. The airline I worked for was the only major airline flying. A man called from Texas and wanted to ship his dog, who was in heat, to Boston for breeding. We were not accepting animals due to our crowded flights and the summer heat. He insisted, I refused, he insisted, I refused. I don't know how he got the dog there but we didn't accept her.

Penny Hammack

Third comment. A co-worker was working the international desk. A woman booked a site-seeing trip around Europe then said she would be bringing her dog along with her. It was small enough to fit under our seats but some European airlines wouldn't accept pets at all. So they started over, trying to avoid non-accepting airlines. Finally my co-worker said "Ma'am, why are you dragging this little dog all over Europe?" The lady replied "because no one will notice me if I don't have little Fifi with me".

Regina Hartman

Animals are not cargo. They are living breathing creatures. Helpless. Huge fines and regulations are the only way for change. Unfortunately money is what is cared about, not suffering. This must stop .

jena hallmark

disclose animal cargo problems

Debbie Croft

I am totally devasted to know that this is going on.What is wrong with the airlines? Don't they realize what an impact thie must have not only on the animals, but the owners as well. Please make sure this is taken care of as soon as possible.

Edy Garrison

I don't think animals should be shipped in cargo to begin with. However, knowing that the airlines certainly won't want to spend any of the money they're making charging every fee under the sun they can think of to keep animals safer, perhaps this is the only thing available. Why haven't discloser rules been in place since animals have been put in cargo?


I think animals should be able to ride with the owners.