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Tag: american airlines

When dogs fly: More deaths in cargo

The deaths of seven puppies flying in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet have added to the growing concerns about pets and air travel.

A shipper last week checked 14 puppies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a flight to Chicago, according to SmartTravel.com. Despite the airline’s policy against carrying pets when outside temperatures are expected to exceed 85 degrees, the puppies were in the cargo hold as temperatures on the tarmac rose to 87 degrees by the time the delayed flight departed.

When the flight arrived in Chicago, the puppies were lethargic and in visible distress. They were taken to a vet’s office, but five died initially and two others died later, according to the Associated Press

The airline declined to identify the shipper, or the breed of the puppies. Animals traveling as cargo on American must be at least eight weeks old, and the airline doesn’t allow dogs or cats that have been sedated.

An airline spokesperson said cargo holds carrying animals are routinely kept between 50 and 70 degrees.

But experts — and statistics – say we shouldn’t count on that.

The deaths come a month after the U.S. Department of Transportation warned that short-snouted dogs such as pugs and bulldogs accounted for about half of the 122 dogs that died during U.S. flights in the last five years.

Add in the tales of dogs getting lost at airports and the best advice is to, whenever possible, avoid shipping a pet as air cargo. There are other alternatives — from using Pet Airways, where pets ride in crates in the cabin, to driving, as Ed Perkins of SmartTravel.com notes in a recent column.

The ASPCA recommends that owners avoid shipping pets in the cargo hold, and offers these tips for those who can’t.

Trucker’s dog returned to family after crash

Zak, the San Diego Tribune reports, is back.

The 1-year-old dog, who had been the traveling companion of truck driver Robert Shields for the past year, was returned to San Diego after Shields was killed in a crash in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday.

“It means everything to all of us,” said Shields’ daughter, Jamie Pickett, 25. “It’s the only thing we have left of my father.”

Shields, 59, a longtime Poway resident, had driven trucks for 14 years. His son, Bobby Garrison, 22, said his father traveled with Zak for companionship and to deter thieves at rest stops.

Zak was with Shields in Omaha Sunday when his big-rig drifted on Interstate 80 and hit a bridge support, witnesses told police. Shields, who may have suffered a heart attack while driving, was pronounced dead at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

When rescuers arrived at the crash, they found Zak, a 20-pound basenji mix, in the truck’s cab, said Pam Wiese, spokeswoman for the Nebraska Humane Society.

Pickett called the humane society Monday morning, trying to find out how to get Zak back. An Omaha TV station did a story on him, Wiese said, and news of the family’s plight quickly spread.

Donations were pouring into the humane society until Michele Henry, Omaha general manager for American Airlines, donated a flight Tuesday morning. Zak suffered only a scratched nose in the crash.

Photo: EARNIE GRAFTON / San Diego Union-Tribune

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