IPATA Statement: Addressing the Safety of Pet Travel

While the death of any animal is tragic, travel in the cargo area of airplanes is safe. Recent media articles are using specific incidents, where the facts are unconfirmed, to scare the general public.

The recent numbers, by the U.S. Department of Transportation, show an incredibly low number of incidents, which are decreasing every year. Air travel is the safest and a very humane mode of travel for pets. In 2016, there were a total of 26 animal deaths on airlines. The American Humane Society reports that an estimated 100,000 dogs die from riding in truck beds alone each year.

Moving families - including pets - is a very common occurrence. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.19 percent of the U.S. population move each year. Shipping pets, using airplanes, is a necessity for many people. It is wrong to distort the numbers, which show that shipping a pet via cargo is safe (See report here). In-cabin travel is not an option for the majority of pets. If the proper requirements are met, the cargo area is safe and pets are not in danger when placed inside the cargo area of an aircraft. Commercial aircraft that carry animals are pressurized and temperature controlled.

One of these recent media articles states, "Service animals or emotional support animals are a different story. There are no size requirements as long as your pet doesn’t block the aisle and can sit between your legs on the floor in front of you, or, if small enough, on your lap." This almost encourages readers to go this route even though they may not have the need for an emotional support animal. There has been an increase in the number of passengers trying to bring emotional support animals in cabin; many of whom are falsifying documents in order to have their animals fly this way. Unfortunately, safety and health issues can get missed and can go unnoticed as pets flown this way are not required to have a health certificate. In addition, many of these untrained support pets are not familiar with this type of environment, putting them under undue stress and ultimately the other passengers in danger.

The vast majority of health incidences that occur during or after flight are due to pre-existing medical conditions that emerge during the change in surroundings and/or environment involved in relocation. Much like the thousands of humans who die during flight, it is usually due to a pre-existing condition sometimes unknown to the pet owners. Blame should not be voiced until all facts are fully analyzed.

Professional pet shippers work with animals every day. They are providing the highest standard of care for all animals, providing constant attention to their safety and well-being, and place their welfare above all other business concerns.

The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), the non-profit trade organization dedicated to the care and welfare of pets and animals during transport, supports air travel for pets through commercial airlines cargo systems as being the safest, most expedient and humane means of moving animals throughout the United States and around the world. IPATA has become a global network of more than 420 member companies in 85 countries across the world. IPATA members ship millions of pets each year and can provide countless stories of shipments that went completely as planned, where the animal reached its destination happy and healthy and was reunited with its owners. IPATA works with local governments, policymakers, and the airlines directly to make sure pet travel is as safe as possible and to ensure that the number of fatalities continue to decrease.

Posted: February 17, 2017

Media Contact: Kim Cunningham
Phone: United States +1 (781) 223-4042