Airline Animal Incident Reports


Article jacked from one of my ‘favorite’ and very controversial sites 🙂 http://musingsofabittergirl.wordpress.com/

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Airline Animal Incident Reports

“If [man] is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practise kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

–Immanuel Kant


Since May 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) has required all U.S. airlines that operate scheduled passenger flights to file monthly reports on pets that died or were lost or injured during transport, pursuant to the requirements of section 710 of the 2000 Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (as subsequently codified at Title 49, Section 41721 of the United States Code and Title 14, Section 234.13 of the Code of Federal Regulations).

The DOT publishes redacted versions of these reports on its website, but unfortunately they are not easy to find. This page provide links to those reports, organized by (1) the total number of reports filed by each carrier, (2) the reports filed at DOT on a month-by-month basis, and (3) the reports filed by each carrier on a month-to-month basis.

Please note that the data for each airline does not necessarily indicate the quality of service that it provides, because the number of animals transported by each airline varies widely. For example, Continental Airlines, which transports numerous pets, has emphasized that incident reports are filed for less than 0.05% of the pets that it transports. In contrast, Southwest Airlines does not transport pets (except service animals, as required by law), and no reports have been filed by Southwest to date.

In addition, the DOT does not require reports to be filed for all incidents involving animals; the scope of the regulation is discussed in an FAQ that the DOT issued shortly after it adopted the reporting regulations. Notably, reports are not required to be filed for incidents involving animals:

  • that are not kept as a pet in a family household in the U.S.;
  • that are carried on all-cargo or unscheduled flights (however, reports are required to be filed for incidents involving animals that are carried as cargo, as opposed to as checked baggage, on a scheduled passenger flight); or
  • that are carried on a flight operated by a foreign airline, even if the flight carries the code of a U.S. carrier (however, reports are required to be filed for incidents involving animals on a flight operated by a U.S. carrier between two foreign points, as well as on a flight operated by a U.S carrier that carries the code of a foreign carrier).
  • Finally, although DOT is responsible for publishing the monthly reports, the overall standards for the transportation of animals as well as registration requirements for airlines are set by the the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. APHIS has adopted regulations for the transportation of dogs and cats (Title 9, Section 3.13 – 3.19 of the Code of Federal Regulations); guinea pigs and hamsters (Title 9, Section 3.35 – 3.41 of the Code of Federal Regulations); rabbits (Title 9, Section 3.60 – 3.66 of the Code of Federal Regulations); nonhuman primates (Title 9, Section 3.86 – 3.92 of the Code of Federal Regulations); marine mammals (Title 9, Section 3.112 – 3.118 of the Code of Federal Regulations); and other animals (Title 9, Section 3.136 – 3.142 of the Code of Federal Regulations).

    For additional information about the DOT regulation, please visit my article “‘The Dog That Did Nothing’: The Curious Incident of DOT’s Animal Incident Reporting Requirements,” http://www.fedbar.org/translaw-news2.pdf.

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