Thursday, August 11, 2005

Airline safety for companion animals

Federal law requires airlines to report the loss, injury, or death of a companion animal in transit to the Secretary of Transportation and for the Secretary to publish the information. 49 U.S.C. 41721. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (registration req'd or opt out) that fewer incidents are being reported than expected but notes some ways to improve the law and its administration:

The incident reports are posted online each month, but [DOT spokesperson] Mosley said only airlines that have a reportable incident are required to file each month. Consumers also will have to scan through old reports to get a feel for which airlines have the most incidents because the government will not record cumulative totals...

Animal groups point out ... that the reports only cover pets being transported, not all animals carried by airlines. They said the reports should cover all animals, including ones bound for labs, farms or other uses.

The Animal Welfare Act authorizes the Department of Ag to regulate transportation of some animals to dealers, exhibitors, and labs, but the AWA has a history of being under-enforced. (The Twenty Eight Hour Law apparently excludes airlines.) Here's the DOT list of reports.

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