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Tag: flights

Returning from an exotic locale? Chances are you can bring someone home with you

wapo2We don’t expect Donald Trump to like this (so don’t anyone let him know) but if you’re returning from a trip to some exotic locale — Mexico, Thailand, South Korea, India, Turkey, Colombia, and the Carribean to name a few — you can bring someone back with you to live in the good old USA forever.

And you don’t even have to marry them — or even ever see them again.

Yes, we’re talking about dogs. (Aren’t we almost always?)

But we’re also talking about an easy-lifting way to accomplish a good deed and play a small role in making a dog and a family happy.

Our country’s incoming new leadership may no longer wants those tired, poor and hungry humans we once welcomed from other countries, but the door is still pretty open for dogs (my dog included) that have been saved from horrific conditions in other countries.

Many of them have gotten here thanks to Americans returning from vacations, who are willing to take a little extra time to serve as their official escorts.

How it all works was documented recently by The Washington Post, in a story by Andrea Sachs, who not only talked to people who have done it, but did it herself.

Sachs recently returned from a trip to Colombia with a dog named Max.

“To unknowing eyes, I was just a typical traveler with a strong pet attachment. But in truth I was a flight volunteer for Cartagena Paws, an animal-rescue center that, among myriad services, places Colombian street dogs with adoptive families in North America. My ultimate responsibility was to escort the 8-month-old puppy with the overactive tail to the District. I was headed north anyway, and, well, Max needed a lift.”

There are animal welfare groups around the world rescuing dogs who face bleak lives, or worse, and then finding themselves hard-pressed to find them homes.

One solution they’ve turned to is exporting rescued dogs to the U.S.

Often, though, they need a little help getting them from there to here.

“We use flight volunteers who are met at the airport by the adoptive parents,” said Lisa Anne Ramirez, executive director of the Humane Society of Cozumel Island in Mexico. Those meetings, she says are “usually very emotional and tearful.”

While most airlines will ship a dog traveling solo in their cargo holds, that’s the most expensive and least desirable method.

Dogs are generally permitted to travel as checked baggage, or as carry-ons in the cabin, but in those cases they must be traveling with someone.

The rescue organizations handle the paperwork, so, for the escort, it’s often just a matter of handing those papers over at customs.

Sasithorn “Sas” Moy of Harlem said little inconvenience was involved after she agreed to escort five dogs from Thailand to the U.S. when returning from a trip to visit family.

She contacted the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation, which sends at least 25 dogs to North America a month.

“I just showed up at the airport and they gave me the paperwork,” she explained after a nearly 20-hour flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. “I said goodbye to the dogs at the X-ray machine. It was painless… There was extra time on the front end and the back end, but it was worthwhile.”

wapo1Sachs advises in the article that travelers wishing to serve as flight volunteers contact the rescue center as soon as they secure their flights.

“I messaged Cartagena Paws two weeks before my departure and received a reply peppered with exclamation points: We would love to have some help! Yes please!”

She and Max flew from Cartagena to Atlanta to Washington — he making the trip next to her in a carrier in the cabin. In Washington, he was picked up for a trip to his new home in Texas.

Sachs also put together a list of international rescues seeking escorts for dogs coming into the United States. You can find more details and contact information at that link.

(Photos: Max arrives in Washington from Cartagena, Columbia, and waits to make the trip to his forever home in San Antonio; volunteers at Cartagena Paws say goodbye to Max at the airport in Cartagena; by Andrea Sachs /The Washington Post)

Short snouts and long flights don’t mix

Short-snouted dogs appear to run a far higher risk of death when it comes to air travel, according to federal government statistics released last week.

Bulldogs, pugs, and other short-of-snout breeds accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data shows.

Overall, 122 dog deaths — 108 of them purebreds — were reported between May 2005, when U.S. airlines were required to start disclosing them, and May 2010, the Transportation Department says.

All the dogs died while being shipped as cargo, as opposed to flying in the cabin.

English bulldogs accounted for the highest number, with 25 deaths. Second highest were pugs, 11 of which died. Seven golden retrievers, six French bulldogs and four American Staffordshire terriers died while flying as cargo in that period. And boxers, cockapoos, Pekingese and Pomeranians accounted for two deaths each.

You can see the full list here.

The Department of Transportation says dog owners should consult with veterinarians before putting their dogs on planes. It believes that the deaths represent a tiny percentage of the pets shipped on airlines.

Short-nose breeds — known as “brachycephalic” — in addition to being less tolerant of heat, have a skull formation that affects their airways, Dan Bandy, chairman of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee, told the Associated Press.

“The way all dogs cool themselves is basically through respiration, either just panting or the action of breathing in or out, is a method of heat exchange for them,” Bandy said. “A dog that has a long snout or a long muzzle has more surface area within its nasal cavity for that heat exchange to take place. So breeds like labradors or collies or those types of dogs with the long muzzles have a more efficient cooling system.”

Bandy said that in addition to trying to cool themselves, dogs may also pant excessively in the cargo hold because of stress or excitement. But he believes dogs shouldn’t be given tranquilizers before flying because that makes them less able to manage their own cooling process. In addition, airlines generally do not want pets tranquilized, he added.

In all, 144 pet deaths were reported by airlines over the past five years, along with 55 injuries and 33 lost pets.

Pet Airways adds service to Baltimore

 Pet Airways — the animal-only airline we told you about last month — has added Baltimore to the list of cities it will serve.

The flights, which will start in July, will travel to Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and New York.

Pets will fly in kennel crates in the main cabin of the aircraft, watched over by a flight attendant, and tickets will start at $149 each way.

For a list of the airports served, click here.

(Photos: Petairways.com)

Coffee, tea or Milkbone?

A Florida company has announced plans to start the nation’s first pets-only airline, allowing dogs and cats to travel in the cabin of its commuter planes.

Pet Airways, of Delray Beach, said Thursday it will begin operating weekly flights July 14 between New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles.

The airline will use commuter planes operated by Suburban Airlines and the average fare will be about $250 each way, said Alysa Binder, founder and executive vice president.

There are tentative plans to expand to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and other major cities by the end of the year, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The start-up of Pet Airways comes as major commercial airlines have increased their pet travel fees and tightened restrictions to discourage pets flying in cabins. Pets flying Pet Airways will not travel in the cargo hold.

“For us, it’s all about the safety and the comfort of the pets,” Binder said.

Pet Airways “pawsengers” – as Binder calls them – will fly in a 19-seat turbo-prop passenger plane, the Beech 1900. The seats will be removed and planes will be fully-lit and climate-controlled. The airline will have pet check-in lounges and a Web site where customers can book reservations and track their pet’s travel progress.