Koro hanging out with my great-aunt Anna in Montenerodomo, Italy, in 1982, during a short trip there while we lived in France.
The following post was originally published by Karen on KP’s Dog Blog, December 3, 2007.
There is good news on the horizon for people who must travel or love
to travel long distances with their dogs but are justifiably fearful of
making them ride in the cargo hold, which up until now has been the
only option for all but the tiniest of dogs. A new company, DogTravel Company, LLC,
has sprung up to offer this service, beginning in 2008, allowing
passengers to purchase tickets for their dogs so that they can sit in
the cabin with their guardians.
However, if your dog is a “problem child,” don’t expect him or her
to be allowed on the plane. Only well-behaved, temperament-tested dogs
who get along well with everyone can go, and they must be able to “hold
it” for at least six hours. There are also strict guidelines on
grooming, flea and tick treatments, vaccinations, microchips, ID tags,
and health certificates. Still, in spite of all the regulations, I’m
sure there are many dogs out there who would qualify and greatly
benefit from this program. (One nice side note: No shock collars are
allowed on these flights.)
Most people seem to be unaware of the hazards of flying dogs in
cargo holds, but it really is a treacherous practice. Many dogs and
other animals have died of heatstroke, suffocation, and freezing, and
others have escaped from their travel crates and the airport and
disappeared into the surrounding city. Some of these have been found
dead, having been hit by cars, but others have been lost forever. In
recent years, airlines have been forced to provide official reports of
dead, injured, or lost animals on their flights, which may have
improved safety somewhat, but the grim stats still convey a terrible
toll. Just in 2007 alone, 29 animals have died, six have been injured,
and seven have been lost on U.S. airline flights, according to U.S.
Department of Transportation reports.
When I was young and naïve, I put dogs on planes four times.
I thank my lucky stars that they survived the flights. I took my first
dog, Koro, with me to France, where I taught English during the
1981-1982 school year, and I traveled to Germany and back with both
Koro and my second dog, Druzhok, in 1985 and 1986, where I also taught
That last flight did take its toll. Back then, veterinarians advised
people to tranquilize dogs before putting them on a flight, and my
sweet Koro took three days to come out of her chemical-induced fog
after arriving back in the U.S. I was terrified that she had sustained
brain damage. Nowadays, vets know better—dogs can’t regulate their body
temperature as well when they’re tranquilized, so tranquilizers are not
recommended. But just think of the ear-piercing engine noise and the
frighteningly unfamiliar environment for a lonely dog in a cargo hold!
It’s a lose-lose situation either way.
Cargo-hold travel for dogs and other animals really does need to be relegated to the past. DogTravel Company, LLC, is definitely on the right track.
Incidentally, this blog post is dedicated to my beautiful,
cosmopolitan Koro, who died 15 years ago (from splenic cancer) at the
age of 13.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.