Alisa Miller’s worst nightmare came true last week when her dog Nala, who was flying to Germany with Miller, broke free of her crate and escaped from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Nala was missing for three days before she was found dead along Interstate 75 in Atlanta. She had apparently been struck by a vehicle and killed instantly. When Nala escaped, she and Miller were en route to Frankfurt, where Miller’s husband, a soldier, is stationed. PETA’s heartfelt sympathy goes out to Nala’s family.
Nala’s death serves as a tragic reminder of the dangers of allowing animals to fly in airplane cargo holds, which are normally unventilated and where engine noise can be deafening. Workers wear earplugs to protect their ears, but dogs, whose hearing is even more sensitive than humans’, don’t have this option. Terrified by the noise, they may frantically try to escape, injuring or killing themselves in the process. Dogs have been known to force carriers open by chewing on and throwing their bodies against the bars.
If you’re going on vacation, letting your companion animals stay at home with trusted friends or family is always the best option. If they must fly, consider booking a flight on the new animals-only airline, PetAirways. It offers coast-to-coast flights in which Pawsengers fly in the cabin and are cared for throughout the flight.
If you are traveling to a destination that is not yet served by PetAirways, ask the airline if your animal can ride in the cabin. If you have no choice but to place your animal in the cargo hold, book a nonstop flight and avoid traveling in extreme temperatures. Insist on seeing your companion loaded safely onto the plane, and don’t board until you know that you are on the same flight as your animal. It is your job to protect your companion animal while flying. For more potentially lifesaving tips, see PETA’s animal-friendly travel factsheet.
Written by Michelle Sherrow