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Flying dog- worried!

kayla
March 18th, 2005, 07:46 PM
I just read the "flying kitties" thread and am now completely worried. I have to be in BC for the beginning of May and don't know how to bring my dog out with me! I was going to drive but I can't because I only have two days between finishing school and my job in BC starting. Now I have to fly and was going to put Kayla in cargo (she definitely won't fit under the seat) but don't want to if it means risking her life!

How can you safely fly an animal if you can't bring it on the plane with you? Does anyone know of any good airlines that treat the animals well?

jjgeonerd
March 18th, 2005, 08:06 PM
I just read the flying cat thread...and most of it is rumors. I was a baggage handler for Reno Air (regional airline owned by American Airlines) for 4 years while I was in college. I was lead baggage handler for 2.5 of those years. I also did baggage handling for a few other airlines (including Canada Air on occasion) that my company contracted with. Reno Air flew MD-80s, the others were 737's, 757's, 767's and 727's...in short, the typical types of large jetliners.

All bins on an airplane are pressurized (i.e. have adequate oxygen supply). If they weren't everyone's bottled stuff would explode. Some stuff does explode due to pressure variations (think ears popping), but they are not damaging to your pet.

With all of the planes I worked on, animals could only be put into one bin (the forward one in an MD-80) because only that bin is heated. The pilot is then told there are animals on board just to make sure it is heated. We never had a single animal injured while I worked there, and animals were ALWAYS treated very well. During snow storms (i.e long delays) we would often bring the crates in our office and invite the owners down to visit their dog (this may not be possible with the new FAA terrorism rules). We moved everything from rare birds of prey for the zoo to family pets to a couple of 1 year old Bull Mastiff show dogs.

I'd be more worried about your dog getting nervous, then how it is treated. In the cabin is obviously great if you can do it, but a LOT of animals fly without problems.

Luggage...now that's a different story!! :evil:

Prin
March 18th, 2005, 08:12 PM
I'm a driver... Can't help with this one. We're supposed to go visit my cousin who is having a baby in Calgary, but we need a longer vacation than we get to be able to drive there...

Besides, BC is only a 60 hr drive... (sarcasm)
(I drove it once after getting a serious concussion at Whistler and I think I went nuts after driving it in 4 days...)

kayla
March 18th, 2005, 08:22 PM
I've done the drive a few times but my best time so far is 3 days, two just isnt enough! Good to hear most of it is just rumours, I hope you're right..

They should have a dog shipping service in Canada! (hint to any entreprenuers out there)

raingirl
March 18th, 2005, 08:39 PM
My friend rode her bike with a friend from TOronto to Victoria once..took 2 months. But I don't think your dog would like that so much...

kayla
March 18th, 2005, 08:47 PM
My friend rode her bike with a friend from TOronto to Victoria once..took 2 months. But I don't think your dog would like that so much...

well it WOULD help burn off some of that endless energy she has if i made her run beside me! ;)

maddoxies
March 18th, 2005, 09:44 PM
I have helped out a friend air freight chinchillas (rescue). I was impressed with the cargo handlers at Air Canada and Northwest, so I would say it would be even better having your dog on a commercial flight with you.

The only thing I can add, is that the crate requirements are a bit different. Airlines require crates with not much space for the animal to be bounced around. If you have a crate now, it might allow your friend more space than airlines regulations allow. Best to check that out in advance.

kayla
March 18th, 2005, 09:59 PM
I don't have a crate yet. The West Jet people said it has to be big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around, not sure what size that is, guess I will have to take her to the store with me.. Anyone know a good place in Montreal for a cheap crate? I would buy from Safari but it supports mills :mad: The little store I usually go to doesn;t sell crates.

jjgeonerd
March 18th, 2005, 10:49 PM
You may want to get some info. about the type of plane you'd be flying on. The crates that held the two Mastiffs (1-year old puppies at 100 lbs each) were large and were difficult to fit into the bin door. If it is a larger plane that won't be a problem, but smaller ones that could be an issue. Montreal to BC is a long ways though, so the plane is probably pretty big.

We literally flew hundreds of animals during the time I worked there without incident, so I wouldn't worry. Actually, I would still worry because I love my dog, but that's unavoidable. My parents lived in Germany for 6 years and transported their dog 2 or 3 times from the US...12+ hour flight. She always did fine. :thumbs up

CyberKitten
March 18th, 2005, 11:33 PM
jjgeonerd wrote: "and most of it is rumors" I am sorry - I am a physician who also holds two PhD's and is Board Certified in pediatrics and oncology. My word is only ever based on scientific work and I resent you disputing something I would write -and quoted from evidence based research and other peer reviewed studies - without including the references for your views. The San Fransciso study on animals and pets flying is a well regarded intensive study that was presented to the US Congress - and the Humane Society (ASPCA) were cheered when their Congress passed the law requiring airlines to make their stats available regarding the deaths and injuries of animals. They did not pass the laws requiring the tightening up of laws regarding the low oxygen levels in cargo sections where animals were transported. I NEVER trade in rumours and abhor those who do - I would please like an apology from you. One cannot simply make accusations and then assume it is not hurtful to one's repuation. In my case, I am engaged in world renowned research (NOT about flight I admit but I have studued oxygen on planes. On a personal note, I have very low O Sats so I have to be cautious myself when I fly even in the main section).

I was so angry when I read what you suggested that I almost spit and I am usually more diplomatic and understanding and utilize more delicate language but please think before you write!

Yes, many people fly their animals without problems. BUT last year, at least 5,000 animals alone died in transit (according to the airlines' own stats). That is way too uncomfortable a percentage of the numbers of pets and livestock flying for my (and many others') comfort zone and that is what I was refelcting.

Your suggestion that the excellent landmark work conducted by the San Francisco SPCA is a rumour demonstrates that either you are unaware of it or worse, you are and choose to ignore it. There are other studies as well. Several renowned animal and veternary orgs recommend against travel in cargo for animals.

It is up to individuals to choose what they will do. The facts are that in Canada, there are no such regulations and airlines can do what they please with your pet. There are some anecdotal stories but I prefer cold hard facts and statistics that can be verified. Indeed, using your own example is anecdotal and based on personal experience with one airline and is not evidence based research. You just cannot extrapolate that data and apply it to the protocols followed by other airlines. That would be akin to suggesting that because your cat enjoyed having a bath (as some do), every other breed also does. In other words, it is patently impossible to make the leap you do.

For me personally, this is my wonderful little cat I am flying - not an inanimate piece of luggage - and I refuse to treat her as such. No airline in this country can as yet claim that there will NOT be depleted oxygen resources in the cargo section. The levels of oxygen depends on how many animals are flying in the hold, the type of animal and its health - older and dogs and cats can have heart attacks as they panic in gasping for breath. Some survive - some do not. In studies and surveys, in addition to the cardiac and respiratory problems, animals arrive with bloodied paws (from trying to escape to get air), damage to other organs because of oxygen loss - including nneurological problems. And alas, death is the worst case scenario.
It was found that younger animals seem to fare better - they are healthier.

Needless to say, a sedated pet is in an even worse situation since the meds depress the respiratory system.

The airline lobby is a strong one and since 9-11, they do not want to spend any more money to meet the requirement for fire safety so they rely on cargo holds with low oxygen. Low O2 means that a fire has a difficult chance to start. So until they do change the practice and implement more expensive measures, animals are at their mercy.

Given all of that, no animal of mine will ever fly in the cargo hold. Others may play Russian roulette with their pets - and there are measures one can take to make it safer (watch when your pet goes on but that does not help when an employee drops the carrier on the ground), let airline attendents you have a pet in cargo. Fly on as short a flight as possible and try to get a direct flight.

It is true that many pets do arrive safely but I am not willing to take the chance that a plane may be delayed, a plane may be an older model - as many of them are it seems these days - or that my pet may panic inside the dark recesses of cargo and become ill or worse.

CyberKitten
March 18th, 2005, 11:50 PM
Kayla, you wrote: "They should have a dog shipping service in Canada!" There is such a service operated out of Dorval I think - or at least Montreal. Lucky may know. There is also an airline in the US specilaizing in flying animals and their companions - Companion Air.

CyberKitten
March 18th, 2005, 11:55 PM
The company in question is http://www.ipata.com/ I forget where you are located Kayla but maybe they can assist you?

As I read their web site, I realize this is not the one I looked at before that was based in Mtl. Maybe someone else knows that one?

CyberKitten
March 18th, 2005, 11:59 PM
The one based in Mtl is http://www.manoir-kanisha.com/anglais/accueilan.html

jjgeonerd
March 19th, 2005, 12:45 AM
Cyberkitten:

I'm sorry that I offended you...what I said was not a direct attack on you, even though it may have sounded like one. I guess I shouldn't have used the word rumor. I was relating my opinion and experience in the airline industry. I am aware that animals have died in cargo holds, but it is not a common occurence. However, I agree that one is too many.

I also appreciate facts and research. Since we are giving credentials I have a BS in Geological Engineering, and a Masters in geotechnical engineering from Berkeley, so I'm pretty fact oriented. Noth quite a PhD, but what can I do. That said, I also understand that experience is just as important as research in a lot of instances.

Like I said...I have personally handled hundreds of animals, all of which were treated very well and were not harmed or "dropped on the tarmac". I also did not just work on just one airline's planes, but several...and nothing bad ever happened. Believe me, if something had we would have known. We caught hell for losing a bag...killing an animal would have definently been mentioned.

I looked at the link you provided and was skeptical, although the stories are indeed very sad. If it is a legitimate research oriented site then I apologize. To explain my skepticism, someone posted a website that stated animals can sense earthquakes a while back (which is complete and utter BS according to any legitimate research) and everyone latched on. I am very skeptical of anything I read on the internet...especially if I can't recognize the source. The New York Post does not always qualify as a reliable source (there was an article in your link). The media's job, especially here in the US, is to sensationalize everything.

Kayla's situation seems to dictate that she (I'm guessing) has to fly her animal. Since all she heard was bad news I figured I could relate my experience and maybe help her feel a little bit better. I take back "rumor", and I apologize for unintentionally offending you, but the fact is that thousands of animals fly every year unharmed.

BTW I agree wilth all of your statements that shorter flights are better, do what you are comfortable with, animals mental condition should be considered, consider time of year (i.e. not hot months) etc. I also think a company devoted to moving animals would be a better option than a cargo hold, if feasible.

CyberKitten
March 19th, 2005, 01:48 AM
Thank you for the apology. I am having one of those days and I did not mean to sound so arragant - I am not usually one to cite my credentials if I can call them that but you made me sound like a rumour monger, something I absolutely hate! (rumours encouraging them). As someone actively engaged in research, I was thoroughly upset when I read your post. (But it had been one of those days (hardly your fault) and it probably hit me more than nornally would have been the case.

Actually, the site I posted was not my source for my position. The study commissioned by the San Fransciso SPCA was one of them and then its footnotes led to read other studies, some funded by veterinary groups. I would not accept the NY Post as a source either. It qualifies as anecdotal and of course would be emotional. I just needed something in a hurry and I used it to explain what can happen. I was going to post the SF study but it is 35 plus pages and I felt people might not want to wade through that. (and for some reason, while a good study, it curiously lacked an abstract).

There are other good studies conducted by the NTSB , other veterinary schools and independent agencies. (If any research these days can ne truly independent).

Thanks again - I can understand flying a pet if absolutely necessary but even then, I would purchase a seperate ticket for the animal. I made those kind of arrangements with an airline last year when I was going to adopt a Siamese kitty. I ended up finding my baby closer to home.

I was not calling into question your academic background. And I do know many animals survive flights in cargo - Kayla asked for opinions and I gave mine. I have never worked for an airline and my experiences in "carrying on" my Siamese kitty and previously, my bunny have been good. It just would not be my choice.

LavenderRott
March 19th, 2005, 01:56 AM
Well, my only credentials is that as military wife and I have flown pets all around the world without issue. I am very careful about making sure they get loaded and unloaded.

Yes, pets can die in an airplane. I didn't read the study referenced, so I don't know the stats. I do know that you have a better chance of getting killed in a car accident then on a plane and I would imagine with the number of people who take their pets every where with them, pet fatalities from car accidents (not hit by car) is pretty high too.

And yes, I am as cranky as everybody else is.

LavenderRott
March 19th, 2005, 01:57 AM
Oh, and if you need to fly with anything larger then a yorkie - you pretty much have to put it in with the cargo.

SnowDancer
March 19th, 2005, 10:24 AM
Frankly, you are taking a risk, no doubt about it. But if you need to fly your dog you should, if at all possible, take a direct flight. You should be able to get a direct Air Canada flight from Montreal to B.C. - although in trying to fill planes to capacity many flights are now stopping and/or require plane changes in Winnipeg/Calgary/Edmondon - this you want to avoid. Air Canada uses different size planes, depending on many factors. We recently flew from Toronto to Vancouver - outgoing plane was large - return plane was much smaller. I noted reference to WestJet. I have never flown with them, so am not sure, but expect most of their planes are mid size and smaller. Also not sure if they are going to stop in one of the Calgary/Edmonton airports. If you haven't purchased your ticket as yet you might be able to get the same price on Air Canada in a "seat sale". Re the crate, I do understand your need to be frugal as you are just finishing school, but the crate absolutely must meet aircraft requirements - actually you can buy them directly from the airline in most cases. This is very important as they will not let your dog fly if crate is not "certified" for airline use. I wish even the train would allow dogs in passenger cabins - even a "special pet cabin" - but they are only allowed on trains with baggage compartments and that is where animals must go. Also suggest you speak with your vet about sedation requirements for your pup. I hope all goes well. So much depends on the airline staff.

jjgeonerd
March 19th, 2005, 11:21 AM
No problem Cyberkitten. Like I said, I didn't mean to offend you and agree that rumor wasn't a good word choice. I'm glad we both agree that the media is a bad source! ;)

Here is a link to the SPCA bulletin you were probably referring to...it isn't the whole report (I agree too long), just a 2-page bulletin. It gives some good tips on how to do everything in your power to ensure your pets safety. It states "the vast majority arrive safely", but I wholeheartedly agree there is a risk.

http://www.sfspca.org/advocacy/pdf/pdf_airplanes/airplane.pdf

Just my opinion, but I would say one of the most important things a person can do is to ask the flight attendant to please make sure the pilot is aware their animal is aboard...otherwise you are relying on the ground crew to relay that very important info.

kayla
March 19th, 2005, 12:59 PM
happycats, i read the mtl based shipping and on the web site it says:

"We select airlines best suited for the needs of your clients' pets."

so unfortunately i don't think they actually do their own shipping, they are still relying on other airlines :(

the spca site gave me a bit of relief:

"In one case, an airline pilot made an emergency landing
due to problems in the cargo area because he knew a dog
was on board."

i want that pilot! although i'm sure all pilots would do the same (ok i know i am probably wrong there but just let me pretend) :o

I decided to go with West Jet, they use the same aircraft air canada does and have the same pressurizing/heating system. they assure me it is the same air with the pets as in the cabin. they don't have cooling, but since it is the end of april i don't think that will be a problem.

thanks for the info!

Prin
March 19th, 2005, 01:10 PM
My bosses told me at air canada that there was a horse in transport once and the owner didn't bring a vet tech with him and the horse got rowdy in the cargo hold and they were worried that he'd damage the plane so they shot him.

jjgeonerd, I don't know where you work, but my first week at AC they told us what the worst things that happened were as a warning in my training. They told us about baggage handlers on leave because of back problems and how one died in the past year on the job. These people have no good reason to lie. They are very loyal to AC, and they wanted us to be in the end too. They just told us so we didn't repeat past mistakes.

And yes there may not be a lot of incidents but the incidents that do happen are atrocious.

kayla
March 19th, 2005, 01:43 PM
jjgeonerd, I don't know where you work, but my first week at AC they told us what the worst things that happened were as a warning in my training. They told us about baggage handlers on leave because of back problems and how one died in the past year on the job. These people have no good reason to lie. They are very loyal to AC, and they wanted us to be in the end too. They just told us so we didn't repeat past mistakes.


so now AC kills the baggage handlers as well as the baggage??? :confused:

DogueLover
March 19th, 2005, 03:36 PM
When I had to fly Zarr here from out east I checked into what airlines would best accomodate my reqirements and also who offered the best rates.
I had several considerations to look at. He was LARGE, he was a mastiff, and it was still winter.
I contacted Air Canada first of all because I know that they do ship animals across Canada and into the US. I wanted a very direct flight, with heated, pressurized cargo, and wanted to be sure that he would have a comfortable flight and not be deprived of oxygen.
Air Canada had a flight that he could have come on but it had stops and he had to switch planes. He would have only flown 1/2 of the way here in heated, pressurized cargo. They offered a crate for me to buy ( I was told they do not rent them any longer) but that alone was $250.00. The flight was another $900.00 before taxes.
I asked if they were going to entertain him and provide him an inflight meal for that price. They failed to join me in the laughter I could not contain.
At this point I called West Jet to see what they could do. And he ended up coming home to me via WEST JET.
West Jet has a company that arranges all the live animal transport on their airlines. I asked about crate size limits and regulations, asked them to find me the most direct flight, and told them I would not have him transported with them if I was not guaranteed heated, pressurized cargo for the entire trip.
The flight with West Jet was direct, I was given written confirmation on the flight including the heated pressurized cargo info, and the same distance for him to travel without any stops or plane changes was $220.00 before taxes.
I talked to the West Jet people at both airports ( directly to the person who was in charge of putting him on the plane and who would be taking him off the plane in the other airport) and told them what my concerns were. They were more than accomodating and he arrived happy, healthy and well rested.
My opinion is to check with the airline( and talk directly with the people on both ends so that they can assure you of any concerns you have).
Just like everything else, you have to do your research.

If you are a student and have to try to find the most economical but yet safe way to get both yourself and your pet to the new destination, I would ask that you contact west jet ( you can check it out on the website) and see what they can do. I think you would probably be able to ship the pet and fly West Jet yourself much cheaper than Air Canada.

I`d be willing to check it out for you since I know the process and could book again in my sleep. If I had to ship any of my pets ( and West Jet is my choice when I travel) they would fly West Jet again in a heartbeat.

jjgeonerd
March 19th, 2005, 04:03 PM
jjgeonerd, I don't know where you work, but my first week at AC they told us what the worst things that happened were as a warning in my training. They told us about baggage handlers on leave because of back problems and how one died in the past year on the job. These people have no good reason to lie. They are very loyal to AC, and they wanted us to be in the end too. They just told us so we didn't repeat past mistakes.

And yes there may not be a lot of incidents but the incidents that do happen are atrocious.
AC had a baggage handler die on the job? Wow...that's a bad day at work! They warned us about getting sucked into engines! :eek: I can totally believe back problems. We were often understaffed and would have to load bags short of enough people. Most of us were young college kids though, so maybe we were less prone to injury.

As far as the incidents...I agree they're bad. Seems like when something goes wrong on an airplane it is bad. 30,000 feet isn't a very hospitable place!

they don't have cooling, but since it is the end of april i don't think that will be a problem.
As far as I know no planes have cooling in the bins (although I could be wrong). Even in the summer it is extremely cold at altitude, so heating is required. It would be nice though for when the plane is sitting to take off.

Karin
March 19th, 2005, 04:48 PM
AC had a baggage handler die on the job? Wow...that's a bad day at work! They warned us about getting sucked into engines! :eek: I can totally believe back problems. We were often understaffed and would have to load bags short of enough people. Most of us were young college kids though, so maybe we were less prone to injury.

As far as the incidents...I agree they're bad. Seems like when something goes wrong on an airplane it is bad. 30,000 feet isn't a very hospitable place!


As far as I know no planes have cooling in the bins (although I could be wrong). Even in the summer it is extremely cold at altitude, so heating is required. It would be nice though for when the plane is sitting to take off.

Bingo! I have been in aviation also all my life, starting with my father who flew for Pan Am and I started in 1980. Cabin pressure is maintained at 8000' as well as cargo pressure. Temperatures change at a rate of 10 degrees per 1000' feet of altitude and so does the cabin/cargo areas. The highest "icing" is actually in the summer months..altitude can be very cold.
Cargo and cabin is always heated and or cooled...very rarely is cooled needed except on take-off and landing. Filtered air is a must, if anything fails the fight is a no-go. If you do not trust the system, consider a charter.

Welcome aboard fellow animal/aviation jjgeonerd...any chance of an easier name? *just kidding*

kayla
March 19th, 2005, 05:28 PM
I decided to book with West Jet, $40 each way, compared to $420 each way with AC! Also, I never fly with AC if I can help it, every time I do there is a huge delay or meals are screwed up or they overbook or something. Over Christmas I flew with them to visit my family and they lost my bags for 5 days! They still haven't paid me back for the clothes I had to buy while I was without any, even though they promised they would. They never even told me how the bags got lost or where they were found, and never even apologized, so I am VERY anti-AC, don't want to think of what would happen if they lost my girl :eek:

West Jet assured a pressurized cabin, heated, etc. It is supposed to stay at temperatures between 4-10 degrees celcius, average at 7 degrees. So I'll just throw a blanket in with her and she should be fine, she doesn't get cold easily. It's also a direct flight, and on a big plane (they only allow pets to fly on one type of aircraft).

Am I supposed to put food and water in the kennel with her? Will that just spill and make a mess?

Prin
March 19th, 2005, 05:51 PM
AC had a baggage handler die on the job? Wow...that's a bad day at work! They warned us about getting sucked into engines! I can totally believe back problems. We were often understaffed and would have to load bags short of enough people. Most of us were young college kids though, so maybe we were less prone to injury.

The worst part is that it happened because of the baggage belt in the not because of the planes. A bag supposedly got stuck and he shut the belts off and someone else turned them on while he was on there.

I wish there was some way to bring animals that didn't weigh so much on my conscience and didn't take too much time. This country is too big!!

DogueLover
March 19th, 2005, 05:59 PM
I would suggest that you do not feed your dog for 12 hrs before you fly and I think limit the water intake before flying. You can double check but I think the dog has to be at the cargo bay two hours before the flight.
Glad to hear that you found a flight for both of you with West Jet they rock!

CyberKitten
March 19th, 2005, 06:07 PM
Good luck with the flight!!! I hope all works out well.

jjgeonerd
March 19th, 2005, 09:13 PM
The only thing I know about giving dogs water on flights is the huge hamster type bottles are the best option. Dishes just spill and make the whole cage wet.

How long is the flight? I would go with Doguelover's advice if it is long...wouldn't want your pooch to have to go mid flight!

Good luck!!