Animal Legal Defense Fund Petitions Department of Transportation to Require Airlines to Report on Deaths of Animals Shipped as “Cargo”

Posted on August 19, 2010

Current Regulations Ignore Deaths, Injuries to Animals Shipped by Puppy Mill Operators

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Puppies in a cageCotati, Calif. – On the heels of the deaths of seven puppies transported in the cargo hold on an American Airlines flight from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Chicago earlier this month, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has filed a petition with the Department of Transportation urging them to oblige air carriers to report on the deaths of any animals in transit, and to identify the shippers and consignees involved in their “shipment.” Currently, the Department of Transportation only requires airlines to report the deaths or disappearances of animals considered “pets”–meaning that there has been no accurate reporting on in-flight harm to dogs shipped by puppy mills or other animals transported as cargo. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) have drafted a joint letter to the Secretary of Transportation, arguing that a “flawed interpretation of laws” has allowed animal death reporting to “slip through the cracks.”

send a letter to your senators and representatives through ALDF’s
website and ask them to join Senators Menendez, Durbin, and Lieberman
and ALDF in amending this regulation to ensure accurate reporting about
the real risks to animals shipped in cargo holds.

The current reporting requirement was created by Congress with the intention of gathering data on the safety of transporting animals as cargo–a risky, controversial practice which many air carriers today refuse to do. That data was intended to be used to inform the public of the safety of the practice and to determine whether further legislative action would be required. However, the regulation as it is currently written covers only “[p]et[s] in a family household in the United States,” which make up only part of the total number of animals transported by air carriers. Animals shipped in cargo by commercial breeders or puppy mill operators–like the seven puppies who died, likely due to overheating, after their American Airlines flight–are unaccounted for, as far as the current law is being interpreted.

“Whether an animal is shipped as a pet or as an item of commerce has no bearing whatsoever on that animal’s ability to suffer,” says Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation. “A dog who dies while being shipped by a commercial breeder may suffer just as much as one who dies while being shipped as a pet. Travelers and animal lovers have a right to know exactly how risky it is for animals to be shipped as cargo on commercial airlines.”

A copy of ALDF’s petition to the Department of Transportation is available upon request.

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