Friday, September 21, 2012

Flying your dog as cargo can be dangerous

What if your dog (or cat) gets lost while being transported in cargo by the airlines? Following is a response from inside a discussion group relating to preparing your dog to fly in the cargo hold. Thanks to Harry Oakes for his permission to post it.

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Airlines lose 100 dogs and about 200 cats a years from crates. Not including the 500 they kill from the pilot not keeping the area pressurized and warmed or cooled and oxygenated.

Crates fall and break open, or an employee opens up the crate to let the dog go potty. The pet gets lose then the airlines calls our team (we track both humans and pets) to track them. I've tracked lost cats and dogs at LAX, PDX, DFW, JFK, SIA, etc. What helps me do my job is the following;
The pet owner should photograph the animal from various angles. Next take a brush (dog brush) and collect a minimum of 20 strands of hair. Place that hair in a clean paper envelope, then seal that up with a plastic bag along with photos of the dog. (This is a great scent article for the search dogs). And we can have the airlines employees make wanted posters with the current photos.
Next make sure the pet is microchipped and the microchip is currently registered, meaning the dog owner/breeder goes online and gives the microchip the current contact info on the dog, owners, vet info. etc.
Next before you ship, have whoever the dog is bonded with, send over a sealed bottle of their (pet owner's) urine. If the dog get's away, usually the dog will settle in a more quiet area of the airport along the fence line. We'll have an airline employee mix the urine with water in a spray bottle and go to the area where the pet has been sited.
If the dog smells its owners' scent (thus the urine) it will stay in the area allowing it to be captured through a live trap or one of us luring it to us.
Another thing to ship inside the crate with the dog is the owners dirty sock or a used tennis shoe. This helps calm the animal as well.
Make sure the airlines knows to call a real search dog team to track the lost pet and not some pet detective whose dog has no tracking training at all. Most airlines bitch about having to pay a real professional to track a lost pet they have lost. It's all about the $$$. So insist they bring in a professional tracking team that tracks both people and pets.

Those are some suggestions I have from our website.
Harry Oakes
International Search and Rescue for Missing People and Pets

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