There are certain legal guidelines and restrictions for dog air travel. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) govern air travel for dogs. The airlines themselves have different regulations. Always contact your airline well in advance to review the particular procedures and requirements.
*Two events have forced many U.S.-based airlines to severely modify, curtail or in some cases abandon the transport of live animals: The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2000 and the signing of the Safe Air Travel for Animals Act in April of the same year.
- In April of 2000, the federal government enacted the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill that includes portions of the “Safe Air Travel for Animals Act,” legislation designed to make air travel safer for pets and other animals. In preparation of the new Act, Congress found that, with respect to animals:
- Animals are live, sentient creatures, with the ability to feel pain and suffer.
- It is inappropriate for animals transported by air to be treated as baggage.
- According to the Air Transport Association, over 500,000 animals are transported by air each year and as many as 5,000 of those animals are lost, injured, or killed.
- Most injuries to animals traveling by airplane are due to mishandling by baggage personnel, severe temperature fluctuations, insufficient oxygen in cargo holds, or damage to kennels.
- There are no Federal requirements that airlines report incidents of animal loss, injury, or death.
- Members of the public have no information to use in choosing an airline based on its record of safety with regard to transporting animals.
- The last congressional action on animals transported by air was conducted over 22 years ago.
- The conditions of cargo holds of airplanes must be improved to protect the health, and ensure the safety, of transported animals.
- The best airlines generally have written rules for dog travel. These guidelines are evidence that the airline has given a good deal of thought to the safe transport of dogs specifically and animals in general. Small dogs can sometimes be crated and taken on board the plane with you. Larger animals must stay in the cargo area. If you must fly your dog, no matter what airline carrier you use, there are important guidelines to consider.
- The dog should be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned.
- The dog cannot be ill, violent, or in physical distress.
- According to the ASPCA and many veterinarians, as well as most airlines, pets should not be sedated for air travel. If you are concerned about your pet being over anxious during travel, then please discuss this with your veterinarian. Make sure that your pet�s nails are trimmed to avoid snagging on the travel crate�s door or some other object.
- The travel crate must meet the airline�s standards and be large enough for the pet to lie down comfortably, turn around, and stand freely.
- Mark the crate with “Live Animal � This Side Up” and include your name, address, and telephone number in case she gets lost or misplaced in transit.
- Try to book a non-stop flight and take temperatures into consideration. During the summer, book to fly at night when it�s often cooler. Some airlines now refuse to transport at all in hot or humid conditions.
- If your origin and destination are inside the U.S., consider the alternative method of moving your dog using professional ground transporters.