Thinking of checking your pets on your next summer flight? After checking out this sad bit of news, you may want to think again.
Seven puppies have died after flying in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet.
According to The Associated Press, American Airlines said it contacted the shipper who loaded 14 puppies in portable pet carriers inside the cargo hold of one of its MD-80 planes, which was scheduled to leave Tulsa, Oklanhoma at 6:30 a.m. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed an hour by storms in Chicago. And while the plane sat on the tarmac in Tulsa at 7 a.m., temperatures had already climbed to 86 degrees.
Factors ranging from heat stroke to carbon monoxide poisoning to pre-existing health problems are being explored in connection with the puppies' deaths. American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said cargo holds carrying animals are routinely kept between 50 and 70 degrees while in flight.
Citing the 100+ degree temperature forecast for that day, ABC News has indicated that "loading the puppies appears to have violated the airline's policy for the safe travel of pets which states that 'pets cannot be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit...at any location on the itinerary.'"
Fagan told the Tulsa World newspaper that the puppies were "taken off the plane alive." According to her statement, while they were being transported to connecting gates, the baggage handlers became concerned by the dog's lethargic appearance. All 14 pups were taken to be examined by a veterinarian, where seven of them ultimately died.
This news comes hot on the heels of the Department of Transportation's report detailing animal deaths on flights and of PetFinder.com's annual announcement of the most pet-friendly U.S. airlines. (American was not on the list.)
Although animal deaths in cargo are typically quite rare, why take chances with your furry family members? When traveling with a pet, it's always wise to consider other options, including driving (if possible), or if you must fly, booking your animals on an airline that specializes in the safe transport of pets, such as Companion Air and Pet Airways.
Please think twice before you decide to transport your companion animal via any airlines. Once you let the crate go down that conveyor belt, you have no idea what happens to your friend. Besides the obvious stress of not knowing what the heck is going on, the animal is frightened. Then, like this example, the heat in the cargo hold was too much for the puppies to stand and the perished. If at all possible, drive to your destination. Your friends will be safe, secure and not away from you.