In an article for Yahoo! Travel by Brittany Jones Cooper (dated Nov. 10th), the tragic story of Frank Ramano is revealed. On October 31st, Mr. Ramano’s dog, Ty, travelled from LAX (Los Angeles) to TPA (Tampa). Upon arrival, the dog surprised cargo handlers as they opened the door by bolting from the plane. He had chewed through his crate midflight, which left him free to wander in an unfamiliar place. Cargo personel were unable to contain the dog once it had sprinted from the airplane. While this article accurately details a sad event, it fails to focus on proper preparatory steps and wrongly places blame on the air carrier rather than on a lack of preparation and awareness by the dog's planners.
The "Right" Airline?
Cooper’s article explains that choosing the right airline is crucial, citing United’s “Pet Safe” program as an optimal choice for ensuring a pet’s safe travel. This implies that other domestic airlines have varying degrees of quality concerning the transportation of pets, a point with which we do not necessarily disagree.
However, we always have a positive experience with pets that have travelled with Delta Cargo. The Delta Cargo staff, whether by phone or in person at our SFO facility, is always courteous, fast and thorough when processing our animals’ documents. Their SFO facility is clean and organized, with a special area for crated pets. We feel that Delta Cargo also appreciates the service that our company provides, because we always do our own due diligence ahead of time concerning paperwork and travel planning.
Is it possible for pets to experience injury or loss during air travel? This story in particular proves that the answer is yes. A rushed, uncomfortable travel experience for a pet arising from poor planning or an owner’s ignorance of travel protocol can result in unforeseen catastrophe. In the case of Ty, things could have been even worse, since he could have potentially chewed through the plane’s utility cables following his midflight escape. It is such a scenario that in part has resulted in Dangerous Dog Breed restrictions for many major air carriers.
How Should a “Dangerous Dog Breed” Travel by Air?
While the Yahoo! Travel article does not mention Ty’s breed by name, he appears to be an American Pit Bull Terrier, or some blend of similar breeds. It is interesting to note that Delta Cargo does not have “Dangerous Dog Breed” restrictions, a label that many pet owners rightly find offensive. It is also interesting to note that Delta is one of the only airlines that does NOT require American Pit Bull Terrier dogs to travel in a “CR-82” (a specialized, reinforced crate, which we sell for an additional $800). Therefore, for an American Pit Bull Terrier dog and other stigmatized breeds, Delta Cargo is oftentimes the most direct and cost-effective option for pet owners, if not the only option.
Each Pet Deserves Specialized Care
At Premier Pet Relocation, we consider all aspects of a pet’s circumstances when choosing the best arrangements for that individual pet. Such aspects include searching for direct flights, time of year, breed involved, the pet’s temperament, cost, etc.
With our experience in relocating American Pit Bull Terriers with high separation anxiety or high energy, we know that dogs like Ty require special planning. While we believe that all dogs develop optimally when properly crate trained, it is even more important to crate-train anxious dogs prior to their trip. Therefore, we always make sure that our clients obtain their dogs’ travel crates well in advance of their relocation (preferably by at least 2 months). We sell and ship travel crates in cases where owners are too distant from local pet stores or too busy to select the right one. Choosing the right crate is important, as some brands are structurally better than others.
We also recommend using pheromone products (such as DAP plug-ins) when dogs are confined to their crates at bedtime. Pet owners are instructed to feed dogs in their crates and to leave an article of their clothing in the crates at the time of travel. Taking a crated dog through a commercial car wash at least twice before the day of travel will acclimate the dog to the unfamiliar sounds at take-off. Lastly, large breed dogs require a lengthy walk prior to their trip to the airport. Tips such as these lower anxiety levels (in dogs and owners) when it comes to travel crate issues. A properly socialized, crate-trained dog will not chew his way out of the crate.
The Premier Pet Relocation
The pet travel industry exists to safeguard against the tragic loss of a pet. At Premier Pet Relocation, we maintain a collective understanding of ever-changing international and domestic pet regulations. We are comfortable with the check-in procedure at all of the major cargo facilities, including Delta, Emirates, United, KLM, Qantas and Lufthansa. We are able to point out clerical errors and computer errors by reminding new cargo employees of proper protocol involving travelling pets, thereby averting potential problems down the road. It is important that we are comfortable during this whole process so that the pets we are handling can also feel at ease.
Articles such as Cooper’s on Yahoo! Travel wrongly assert that choosing a “pet-friendly” airline is literally the #1 concern. Almost all major airline companies are professional and appropriate in their treatment of pets. It is the responsibility of the owner (or the owner’s agent, i.e. the pet relocation specialist) to ensure that a dog has been properly acclimated to their crate, and not the responsibility of the airline. Premier Pet Relocation knows that focusing on essential aspects of travel preparation, such as crate-training, as well as having all of the pet’s accompanying travel and veterinary documentation in their entirety, must be the primary focus of every move.
Your Pet’s Safety Is Our #1 Priority