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Incident Reports for Pet Incidents aboard U.S. Airlines

 

HSUS, PETA, the ASPCA and other animal advocacy organizations lobbied, and since 2005, The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has required all U.S. Commercial airlines that operate scheduled passenger flights to file monthly incident reports.  These reports address the number of animals that died, were lost, or became injured during transport. 

This requirement is found in section 710 of the 2000 Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (as subsequently codified at Title 49, Section 41721 of the United States Code and Title 14, Section 234.13 of the Code of Federal Regulations)

The Department of Transportation publishes these reports on their website, but they are not easy to find and often burried (hidden) in the Consumer Reports area of their website.

Jol A Silversmith of Third Amendment.com has done an excellent job of consolidating the information into concise reports and overall information.


According to Jol A. Silversmith, "the data for each airline does not necessarily indicate the quality of service that it provides, because the number of animals transported by each airline varies widely.  For example, Continental Airlines, which transports numerous pets, has emphasized that incident reports are filed for less than 0.05% of the pets that it transports.  In contrast, Southwest Airlines does not transport pets (except service animals, as required by law), and no reports have been filed by Southwest to date."

 

Note: Southwest does now transport pets within the cabin since this quote was written.

The important thing to note is that it is not at all obvious that those airlines with the highest number of incidents are the most dangerous to your pet. The data does NOT say how many flights were taken. Airlines with the most pets transported over the years such as United, Continental and Alaska Air, will clearly have more incidents. However, we don't know the exact number of successful pet transports from these reports.


The DOT does not require reports to be filed for all animal incidents. In summary reports are not required to be filed for incidents involved the following situations:

  • Animals that are not kept as a pet in a family household in the United States
  • Animals that are carried on all-cargo or unscheduled flights
  • Animals that are carried on a flight operated by a foreign airline, even if the flight carried the code of a U.S. Carrier

According to Jol A. Silversmith, he received a letter from the DOT elaborating that "it also interprets the reporting requirements not to apply to "escapes [which] last only a few minutes or a few hours."  

 

Additional Reading:
"The Dog That Did Nothing. The Curious Incident of DOT's Animal Incident Reporting Requirements" by Jol A. Silversmith

 

2012 Count of Deaths and Injuries to Pets on Flights in the U.S.:

 

Total Deaths in 2012: 29

Total Injuries in 2012: 26

 

Deaths by Airline in 2012:

Alaska Airlines - 1

American Airlines - 5

Delta Airlines - 10

United Airlines - 12

Hawaiian Airlines - 1

 

To read more detail or to read the actual incident descriptions - see this link

 

 

 



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