Safer Rules for Cats on Airlines

DOT might expand dog and cat incident reporting for airlines to protect pets.

Prompted by letters from U.S. Senators and a petition submitted in 2010 by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the U.S. Department of Transportation in late June proposed expanding its reporting requirements for airlines that transport cats and dogs.

“This new rule is good news for animal lovers,” said Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary. “It will help ensure that all animals can be transported safely and will enable consumers to more accurately compare airlines when it comes to the care provided to their pets in the air.”

Among proposed changes include extending the mandate to an additional 21 U.S. airlines (currently only the 15 largest U.S. airlines are required to report dog and cats losses, injuries and deaths) and to require reports for all cats and dogs transported (current rules only apply to animals transported as pets by their owners but not those transported commercially by breeders and distributors).

With the expansion of airlines to include all airlines operating at least one plane with 60 or more passenger seats, the reporting requirement would apply to airlines carrying 99.6 percent of domestic passengers and 98 percent of international passengers that travel on U.S. airlines, according to the government.

The rule would also require a year-end summary report of the total number of losses, injuries and deaths in the airlines’ December reports.

The department is also seeking comment on whether it should require monthly reports whether or not an airline had any incidents (currently airlines only file reports for months in which incidents occur) and whether the December reports should include the total number of animals transported during the year. The department is accepting public comments on the proposed rule here through Aug. 28, 2012, or at, Docket ID No. DOT-OST-2010-0211.

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