Holiday travel: Risks of flying with pets

Author: Amanda Hall
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla.- As we head into the holiday travel season, WINK News looks into whether taking your pet on board a flight is worth the risk.  Reports from the Department of Transportation show more pets have gotten hurt, lost, or even died during commercial flights in the past several years.

Dog owner Stephanie Chin admits she was hesitant about flying with her dog Zina under her seat.

“I was nervous about traveling with her especially cause she was so young,” she said.

Chin has good reason to worry.  According to the Department of Transportation, 463 pets died, were injured, or lost since May 2005 to August of this year.

So far in 2014, the department shows 61 animals dead or hurt from various ailments.

Most were in cargo, not flying in the plane’s cabin.

Airline bag handlers found Bam-Bam, a two-year-old mastiff dead on a layover in Houston.  He likely from a heat stroke after being left in a cargo space with no air conditioning.  The airline eventually paid his owner nearly $4,000 for a new dog and crate.

Despite the increase in animal deaths, one vet says it’s typically still safe for pets to fly if temperatures aren’t below 45 or over 74 degrees.

“its always important to call the airlines, you know, ten days before you leave. call and find out. also find out if you need a health certificate. because some of these airlines are requiring a health certificate,” Dr. Bob Hale said.

Sedating a pet can help with anxiety. Dr. Hale prescribes a form of pet Xanax.

“We are going to give a very small amount. We’re going to give our client just a little bit in case they need more but we are always going to sedate on the lower side of the drug.”

Some types of dogs and cats should never fly.  Airline pressure can impact certain flat-nose breeds more than others, causing respiratory problems.  In fact, some airlines have banned them entirely because of an increase in deaths.

Dog breeds animal experts say should avoid flying:
Chinese pug

Cat breeds animal experts say should avoid flying:

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