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Tag: airport

Bomb detecting dog in training shot and killed at New Zealand airport

grizz

A dog being trained to detect bombs at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport was shot by police — under orders from the airport — after he ran off from his handlers and caused flights to be delayed.

Airport officials said handlers, security staff and police officers spent three hours trying to capture the dog.

But, after 16 flights had to be delayed, they gave police the go ahead to shoot the 10-month-old border collie and German shorthaired pointer mix. They insisted it was a last resort.

The shooting was condemned by animal rights activists and others.

The dog, named Grizz, was training to be an Aviation Security explosion detector and was six months away from graduation, CNN reported.

After handlers tried unsuccessfully to recapture him, and to coax him off the runway, airport staff told police to shoot him.

Then they got on Twitter and reported he had been recaptured.

Not until an hour later did they reveal the dog had been killed.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Grizz was not on the tarmac but on the outer perimeter of the airfield when he was shot.

SAFE for Animals Ambassador Hans Kriek condemned the killing, asking why the animal wasn’t tranquilized, but a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said he “didn’t believe” that had been an option.

Grizz escaped from his handler at around 4.30 a.m. Friday (local time) and ran out onto the tarmac at Auckland Airport, according to the CAA spokesman.

“He was on an initial airport environment socialization program as part of his training … The airport Emergency Operations Center was activated and a full search was commenced,” he said in a statement.

But the spokesman said it was too dark and the area too large to quickly find and contain the puppy.

“We tried everything, food, toys, other dogs, but nothing would work … In these difficult circumstances the Airport’s Emergency Operations Center team decided to have the dog destroyed,” he said

Animal activist Kriek said other alternatives should have been explored.

“Ultimately they have to call the police in to shoot the dog, and the police have access to tranquilizer guns, and there’s also a zoo nearby that would have one as well. So we don’t understand why they didn’t do that,” he said.

An airport spokesman said the question of a tranquilizer gun, and the entire incident, would be reviewed.

Making air travel a lot more tolerable — at least for animals

stables

Imagine a brand new airport terminal that features a swimming pool, private suites with flat screen TV’s, around the clock medical care and a spa with massage services.

Sorry, it’s not for you. It’s for dogs, and other animals.

The $65 million terminal at New York’s Kennedy Airport is scheduled to open later this month, a 178,000-square-foot facility called the ARK that will help process animals arriving and departing on international flights — dogs, cats, birds, horses and even cattle.

That’s right, cattle could soon be receiving far more luxurious travel services while we humans continue to be treated more and more like cattle when we choose to travel by air.

The facility will hold newly arriving animals from outside the country, and those being quarantined and, for those in need of additional services, the premises will include a pet resort, veterinarians and groomers.

poolThe ARK sits on 14.5 acres of land in a cargo area near the runways. It replaces Vetport, a facility that opened in 1951 and had a less than pristine reputation.

The new facility is billed by developer Racebrook Capital as the “world’s only privately owned animal terminal and USDA-approved, full-service, 24-hour, airport quarantine facility for import and export of horses, pets, birds and livestock.”

Company owner John Cuticelli says he expects about 5,000 horses, 10,000 small pets like dogs and cats, and hundreds of thousands of birds to come through the facility each year.

The company has signed a 30-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, according to the New York Post, which was recently given a tour of the new facility.

The Ark features a large animal departure lounge offering stalls, food and water for horses, individual climate-controlled units for horses, equipped with bedding and natural light, a veterinary hospital offering general and emergency care, a Paradise 4 Paws pet resort featuring a bone-shaped dog pool and a jungle gym for cats, and grooming, training and massage therapy.

“Right now, animals can wait four or five hours on the tarmac or in the cargo facility because there is no other way to process them,” Cuticelli said. “The ARK will be focused on the safe and humane transportation of animals.”

The dog so fat he had to fly first class

hankthetankA 165-pound mastiff perched atop a cushion was wheeled on to an American Airlines flight in Los Angeles this week, startling passengers when he took a seat in first class.

The dog, named Hank, was photographed by a fellow passenger, tweeted, and widely retweeted.

“It was huge. I have never in my life seen a dog that fat – it was massive,” said Madeleine Sweet, who took the photo.

The passenger said it appeared that Whitman had bought two first class tickets on the LA flight – one for her and one for Hank.

“Everyone, both while boarding the plane and on the plane before takeoff, was speculating as to how the dog got so fat,” she said. “You could legitimately hear hushed whispers of ‘He’s riding first class.'”

Hank sat in the front row of first class on the flight bound for Denver.

Hank belongs to Kari Whitman, an interior designer who founded Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue in Beverly Hills. He is a service dog who detects her seizures., according to NBC in Los Angeles.

As for Hank’s weight issues, they are the result of an illness, and have left him unable to get around much without the aid of a cart.

It appears that this wasn’t Hank’s first flight, or his first first class one, judging from an Instagram for @hankthetank.

Fellow travelers say Hank sat on the floor and that he stayed quiet for the entire flight.

More than probably can be said for some passengers.

(Photo: Madeleine Sweet, via Twitter)

LAX dogs provide different kind of security

pups

From an Irish wolfhound named Finn to a Rottweiler named Maggie Mae, 29 dogs of various breeds are providing a different kind of security for travelers at Los Angeles International Airport.

The dogs have been comforting frazzled travelers for a year now, through a program called PUP, or Pets Unstressing Passengers.

finnFinn started last November, the day after a gunman opened fire at Terminal 3 and left a Transportation Security Administration officer dead, according to the Los Angeles Times

“I think after the shooting, Finn attracted attention because he represented something comforting,” owner Brian Valente said in an airport statement. “As passengers asked questions about Finn and started to pet him, I could see their bodies relax and their demeanors change.”

The one-year anniversary of the program was marked yesterday at a meeting of the L.A. Board  of Airport Commissioners.

The dogs all wear bright red vests, and mingle with passengers in post-security-screening areas. The program is aimed at reducing the anxiety of travelers by letting them pet and play with the dogs.

The dogs are registered with Therapy Dogs, a national organization that supports pets that visit places such as hospitals, nursing homes and other special needs centers.

To see more of the dogs, click here.

(Photos: Los Angeles World Airports)

The first and last flight of Snickers the cat

I feel bad for what happened to Snickers the cat. But to be brutally honest, I’m having a hard time working up much sympathy for her owner.

Snickers died last week, shortly after arrival at the Hartford airport aboard Delta Flight 738.

Airline officials had promised Heather Lombardi, who had purchased the cat from a breeder in Utah and was having her delivered, that the cargo hold the cat would travel in was climate controlled.

If you can’t guess what happened next, here’s some additional information:

Snickers was 11 weeks old.

Snickers was a Sphynx, or hairless cat.

It is winter, and a particularly cold one.

Once a plane lands, the cargo area is depressurized, and that climate control stuff doesn’t apply anymore.

Lombardi sent out an email blast to tell the world about “the worst tragedy I have ever personally experienced” — not to gain pity, or money, or, we’d hope, bolster her odds in a lawsuit. Instead, she says, she wanted to inform the world of the dangers of shipping a cat, by air, in winter.

With her two children, Lombardi arrived at the airport and was told to wait in the baggage area. Fifty minutes passed after the flight landed, the delay in unloading baggage being caused at least partly by a cargo hold latch that was stuck, she was told.

“I wasn’t incredibly alarmed … I figured she would be fine as long as she wasn’t outdoors,” wrote Lombardi, who paid $290 to transport Snickers. Outdoors, it was 7 degrees.

Upon being handed the crate, Lombardi opened it and pulled Snickers out:

“The kitten was ICE cold, limp, and unresponsive. I IMMEDIATELY put her into my coat, grabbed my kids by the hands & ran out of the airport to get her into my car & cranked up the heat putting all vents on her as I rubbed her trying to warm her up. She couldn’t lift or control any limbs, her breathing was labored, she had a blank stare in her eyes, and she let out a meow. As if to say help me — please. We rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, but to my utter devastation, on the drive, she let out a blood curdling cry & went completely limp …”

Ten minutes after handing the apparently lifeless cat to the vet, Lombardi was informed that Snickers was indeed dead.

“Her last hour of life was spent frozen & unable to escape. I am so utterly devastated — I cannot express to anyone how this feels. I am so sad for her, her little 11 week life lost for no reason. A tragedy that could have been prevented if the airline had valued her little promising life.”

Delta told her it is investigating, but, she said, “the bottom line is that they can’t bring her back to me or my family, there is nothing they can say or do to make this whole. We don’t want a new kitten; we fell in love with HER. She was our new child & there is nothing that can be done to bring her home to us. Snickers lost her life unnecessarily …  Value life everyone, I have just experienced something I pray no one else has too. Don’t let Snickers lost life be in vain, I pray you guys read this & maybe another animals life won’t be lost to the cold & lonely Delta Cargo holds.”

Reading over her summary of events, what stuns me most is that a customer would even consider having an 11-week-old hairless cat transported by air in the dead of winter. That the breeder would permit it is surprising as well. That Delta signed off on it is equally shocking.

So, much as we regret Snickers’ passing, we, unlike Lombardi, wouldn’t aim our anger solely at Delta. There appear to be plenty of humans to share the blame, including the one who — though her subsequent warning not to ship animals when it’s below 30 degrees is valid — probably should have done a little more research and used a little more common sense before having her new hairless cat placed on a plane.

And we have to wonder a little bit, too — coldhearted as it may be at her time of clearly anguishing loss — why, any allergies aside, someone would opt for a pricey, high-maintenance novelty pet from the other side of the country when hundreds of cats are in the Hartford area’s animal shelters, waiting for homes.

Heather Lombardi responds: 

“… I first wanted to thank you for bringing attention to what happened to Snickers. Knowledge is power & even if you don’t agree with my actions & poor decision, not everyone knows or understands the risks of placing your pets in a climate controlled cargo hold. I myself was guilty of that. I do not place blame solely on Delta, my lack of knowledge & belief that travel was safe for animals in this weather was the obvious reason she was on the flight. It’s why I decided to share her story. She died due to my lack of knowledge & an obvious service failure on Delta’s behalf. I can’t control Delta, their practices or policies, what I can control is how I handle the situation. I choose to raise awareness, and I thank you for helping with that.”

Roadside Encounters: Rocky

Name: Rocky

Age: 6

Breed: Rottweiler-beagle mix

Encountered: At a Motel 6 across from the Richmond airport

Backstory: Rocky has been a guest at this Motel 6 — for two years. He lives in a second floor room with his owners, a painter named Dave and his daughter Jessie. At $33 a night, and an even lower rate when you pay by the week, it works out about the same as rent, Dave says. Besides, he adds, “I like motels.”

Rocky can be seen wandering various parts of the property on his own, and every morning when he’s let out of the room, he goes directly to the motel office for a treat.

We encountered him a few times during our stay, and he got along great with Ace. Both times we saw him, Rocky went into a play stance, leading Ace to chase him around the parking lot.

Dave, a lifelong resident of Richmond, says Rocky has bitten a couple of people, but only when provoked. He’s a sweet and friendly dog — “unless you try to get in my van.”

(Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing the country.)

John Travolta’s two dogs killed at airport

John Travolta’s two family dogs were killed after being struck by an airport service vehicle at Maine’s Bangor International Airport.

Both dogs were being walked on leashes while Travolta’s jet was parked on an airport tarmac for refueling.

In a statement released to the Bangor Daily News, city officials said, “An airport service pickup truck was approaching the airplane to service the airplane and did not see the dogs. Unfortunately, the dogs were struck and killed. The airport is investigating the accident. Out of respect for the family’s privacy the city will make no further comment.”

The death of the two dogs comes a little more than a year after Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, lost their son, Jett, who died after suffering from a seizure while vacationing with them in the Bahamas.

Travolta is a licensed pilot and owns a home in Islesboro, a small coastal town in Maine. It was unclear who was on the plane or if Travolta was in the cockpit, CBS News reported.