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Cat Lost in JFK Airport

Written by PETA | November 7, 2011

Update: Jack the cat has passed away because of injuries that he suffered while lost inside JFK airport. After spending two months in the American Airlines baggage-claim area, Jack was finally found when he fell through the ceiling. Airline employees took him to a veterinarian, but the severe wounds covering half his body, a raging infection, and starvation were too much for Jack to surmount. His Facebook page, flooded with condolences, will, we hope, prevent similar tragedies from occurring by serving as a reminder that animals should travel in the cabin with their guardians.

Originally posted September 2, 2011

© Linqong | Dreamstime.com

With thousands of us hitting the road for the long Labor Day weekend, it bears repeating that animals should never be transported in the cargo hold of an airplane. In another hideous example of what can happen when airlines treat animals like luggage, a cat named Jack is currently lost inside JFK Airport  after he escaped from his carrier before he could be loaded into the plane’s cargo hold. Jack has been lost in JFK’s baggage claim area for a week, and attempts to catch the terrified cat have all failed.

When vacationing, it’s safest to leave animals at home with a trusted adult friend or relative or a bonded, recommended professional sitter. Don’t cut corners or be casual—too much rides on your careful selection. If you must bring your animals, drive to your destination, or if you fly, the animals must ride in the cabin of the plane with you, under the seat. See PETA’s “Traveling With Companion Animals” factsheet for more information.

And if you’re traveling by car this weekend, remember to keep an eye out for animals in distress. If you see an animal near the road, stop to help, and please, if you pass an animal who looks dead, don’t assume that he or she actually is.

Safely pull over and make sure that the animal is dead by gently touching the outer corner of the eye and pinching one of the animal’s toes. If the eye blinks or the animal pulls back, the animal is still alive, and you will need to take him or her to the nearest veterinary clinic and/or call the local humane society or the police (call 911 if you have to—do not give up). And be sure to stay with the animal until help arrives. For more information on braking for animals, see our list of tips.


Written by Michelle Sherrow

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  • Jackie says:

    If parents can bring their screaming kids on a plane, then surely people should be able to bring on larger pets. There’s not much difference between a wailing child, and a barking dog.

  • Shirley says:

    Yes you’re right.. pets should travel with their guardians on cabin so that the guardians always take a look for them. I know the feeling when you lost a pet, it’s very hard to move on ‘coz pets is like our family or our baby.

  • Jen says:

    I travel a couple times a year. I would have no problem having a larger dog or cat on the airplane. The airlines just don’t care about their passengers or cargo and they need to be sued. This is not the first time an animal died at an airport. I would not let my pets out of my sight. They’ve trashed my luggage Many times and I would not let them handle my precious pets.

  • Kathie says:

    This is such a heart wrenching tragedy for Jack, Jack’s owner and all those who love animals. Seems the airlines haven’t gotten the picture yet on how best to treat animals during travel. I would NEVER subject my pets to fly as cargo due to all the SAD stories read over the years. We’ve driven with our cats cross country numerous times and driven all night to get home faster so we wouldn’t have to fly with them. The airlines MUST find a better way or how about special trains or the someday high speed rails to travel with pets when it is such far distances? Also, people should not have to leave their best friends to chance.

  • Emma says:

    I would like to point out that this was not a vacation gone wrong. She was flying out to a new job, moving basically. Both cats were said to be too big to fit with her in the passenger area, though I’m not sure how that works. My little 6 lb cat flew with me and there was a lot of room under the seat. A neighbor who used to work for an airline said that with proper notice you can fly with two cats in the passenger compartment. Regardless, this should not have happened and AA should have looked for the cat a lot sooner then they did. My neighbor also talked about pets flying to the wrong destinations, sometimes 1-2 thousand miles from where they were supposed to be. In these situations that airline she worked for (not AA) chose to lie and just say that the animal didn’t make the plane. I hope they find Jack soon and that he is doing okay. Hopefully he is still somewhere at the airport and not roaming about in the countryside out there – which would make finding him a one in a million chance, though such things have happened before.

  • Jackie says:

    There was a question on Sodahead asking if it was as much of a deal that a cat was lost in the airport. This isn’t to say they felt it wasn’t, they’re a site that posts articles to open discussions and opinons. I said, “Would this even be a question, if someone’s child was lost in an airport?” I mean really, it’s ridiculous how people assume because it’s not of their species it doesn’t matter. Also people, if you must fly your pets somewhere, use Pet Airways (http://petairways.com/). They have been reccomended in the past by PETA, and have professionals who know how to work with animals, and your pets will be on an animal only airplane where they are not put into cargo.

  • joleeneblack says:

    Oh,man…that just makes me sick……

  • Gia says:

    Perhaps instead of condemning air travel for animals, PETA could post a bunch of helpful tips for increasing safety. For example, how did this cat escape? It is important to use a sturdy carrier, with METAL bearings and fittings only, and zip tie the doors shut. This alone would easily prevent any escapes. In addition, the cat should have been acclimated to a crate before hand to minimize stress. Unfortunately, PETA advocating NEVER using a crate has dire consequences. PETA’s own neuter clinic uses crates. Not acclimating an animal to being in a crate for short periods of time can result in panic resulting in escape, injury, broken teeth, and mental anguish.

  • allison says:

    okay u people are wrong, yes animals get hit and its sad but sometimes you cant help it, the animal just gets in the way and why pull over and see if its dead i doubt if u were laying on a road an animal would stop to make sure ur okay

  • sherrill benson says:

    How sad is that,to lose an animal us bad enough but like this no way. I do hope he is found and returned home soon.

  • Georgia says:

    Well, i understand doing your best to not upset your animal. But my husband and I own a large dog and have to move frequently for his job, so we can’t just drive across the country or put him under the seat. You have to do what you can.

  • Natural Detox Pat says:

    People run over humans and leave them for dead. It’s hard to imagine humane people leaving anything dead on the road, but it happens all the time. How far have we spun out of control not to care about our fellow man and man’s best friend? Man’s best friend comes in all furry and non-furry shapes and sizes. Make a point to think about someone else besides yourself and what’s going on in your world. Humanity is on a destructive path. There’s still time to change it.

  • Patricia says:

    how does this keep happening? What a horrible thing for the cat and the family.

  • jessie says:

    This is a terrible shame. Larger dogs are not allowed to travel with the passengers, which i feel is unfair. If a small dog can, it’s nothing to do with allergies, its space. It should be an own area for ex. at the back of the plane with space for the pets.

  • victorian says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you are allowed to call 911 to help an animal. They have strict policies on the 911 calling. I know someone who is being charged with a crime for calling because the police were in his home assaulting him and his wife! Now he’s in trouble for calling 911 because the “police” were present. Best to call the regular police or humane society or get the animal to the vet yourself if you can.

  • Dottie says:

    Maybe they should try setting some have a heart traps around.

  • Diana Chiplakes says:

    It sadens me so to hear this story, I would NEVER EVER go any where without my Little Lola w/me car,plane or train EVER. I could never live with myself after loosing her. Was this cat ever found?

  • Jen says:

    Hope Jack is found. Praying for a happy ending.

  • Heather Melanson says:

    Unfortunately if you have an animal who is unable to fit comfortably into a carrier under your seat, you won’t be able to bring him/her into the cabin. But, as there was a time when no animals were allowed in the cabin, perhaps there will come a day when any companion animal will be able to be safely brought along flights for those who have no other feasible option.

  • S says:

    How about getting one of those sniffer dogs to track this poor cat down. Then get some kind humans to complete the rescue. As for the turtle very sad. Slow down. Do not drive fast then at least the animals have a chance. You also improve your own road safety by doing do.

  • vanessa says:

    help animals :)

  • Cheryl H. Hardy says:

    It just sickens me that the cat is still missing. I don’t know what I would do if something like that happened to one of my pups!!!

  • hanna says:

    oh my…so sad…GO GO PETA!

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