ALDF Scores Partial Transparency Victory for Animals on Airlines

Posted by Chris Berry, Staff Attorney on August 21, 2014

On July 3, 2014, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final rule partially granting a request by ALDF to expand reporting requirements by air carriers for incidents involving animals during air transport. 79 Fed. Reg. 37938. The final rule significantly expands the previous rule by requiring major air carriers to report incidents involving the loss, injury, or death of all warm and cold-blooded animals shipped as pets, and all cats and dogs even if they are part of a commercial shipment. By contrast, the previous rule excluded all animals who were part of a commercial shipment (e.g. to a pet store or laboratory).


ALDF originally petitioned DOT in August 2010 to cover all animals after reviewing news reports that seven puppies died on a hot flight from a commercial dog breeder in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Chicago, Illinois. The air carrier was not required to report those deaths because the seven puppies were traveling as a commercial shipment to pet stores and therefore did not qualify as pets. ALDF promptly responded to this inequity by petitioning DOT to require reporting incidents involving all animals – not just pets traveling with their guardian. ALDF explained that strengthening the reporting rule would increase consumer and law enforcement access to data involving air carriers’ pet safety records.

CATS AND DOGS Covered Not Covered
OTHER SPECIES Covered Not Covered

DOT’s final rule meets ALDF partway by expanding the reporting requirement to include all cats and dogs even if they are not shipped as pets. The most significant effect of the new rule will likely involve reports for incidents involving cats and dogs shipped en masse in the pet store and animal research industries. However, the rule falls short of granting ALDF’s full request because it is limited to commercially-shipped cats and dogs. For example, air carriers will not be required to report incidents involving nonhuman primates on the way to research facilities or other commercial enterprises. That information would help consumers determine an air carrier’s general animal transportation safety record, and facilitate efforts to review a carrier’s compliance with applicable animal welfare laws and transporting standards.

CATS AND DOGS Covered Covered
OTHER SPECIES Covered Not Covered

Even if it falls short, DOT’s new rule is nonetheless a substantial victory for animal and transparency advocates. In addition to covering more animals, the new rule provides additional strengthening of the reporting regime by:

  • Expanding the reporting requirement to include any U.S. Carrier with at least one aircraft holding sixty or more seats;
  • Requiring carriers to file annual reports with the number of all animals lost, injured, or killed during the calendar year, and to affirmatively state that the number was “zero” if there were no incidents;
  • Requiring carriers to include the total number of animals transported during the calendar year when they file their annual reports; and
  • Requiring carriers to sign and certify that the annual report is true, correct, and complete.

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5 thoughts on “ALDF Scores Partial Transparency Victory for Animals on Airlines

  1. Jaaron Wise says:

    “And therefore did not classify as pets”

    Well. That’s all the reason you need not to buy from a pet shop, now isn’t it?

  2. I am very concerned about the welfare of people traveling and their pets ( family member) traveling with them in the cargo area. Is it heated, air conditioned and is the sound from the engines so loud it is doing damage. I am VERY a posed to the commercial shipment of animals to Per shops, Labratories ! These should be banned!!!!!

  3. Why any people are allowed to breed and/or ship any animals to labs for horrific testing, let alone supposed pet shops while many many people are donating money and their time thru legal aid and rescuing these abused animals should be ilegal!

  4. Lorrie Smith says:

    My husband and his ex-wife bought a Westie puppy who was flown in from FL to CT. He was sso cute, they actually kept him in the COCKPIT, because the pilots fell in love. When I moved from WA to OH, my fiancée (ex-husband, booked us 1st class and I had my cat in a carrier. She was black, so I was able to sneak her (twice, caught 1st time) out of her carrier and onto my chest, with the black blanket over her. The other passengers in 1st thought it was pretty cool. She was very timid and so, she was very quiet sleeping on me, hidden.

  5. Lorrie Smith says:

    That’s one of MANY reasons not to buy from pet stores. Puppy Mills being #1. Something the Amish are really into now. I impulse-bought a Chinchilla from a pet store. She had no nails, so I was confused when the book talked about clipping. She also seemed about only 2/3 the size of the Chinchillas in the book. They said NOTHING about an exercise wheel, but we made an elaborate cage for her with a playroom, including a large wheel. She’d run on it all the time! She had the BEST temperament and was so loving. My heart broke when she died after barely 2 years. She was so inbred! Clearly she was meant for a coat, which sickens me. It takes 500 Chinchillas to make one coat. They’re the softest animal alive with 4000 hairs PSI. Highly recommend as a pet, but please, do some homework first, as with any pet. Not good (as any small animal, for families with small children. And make sure you buy ASH especially made for them, not sand or any other substance. Watching them roll an flip around in it (It’s how they wash) is almost 1/2 the fun of owning a chinchilla.

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