Pets

Viral video shows dog owner ignoring her dog’s poop at Denver Airport

Reno-Tahoe International Airport pet relief area

RNO airport pet relief area

Last week, my At the Airport column on USA TODAY discussed the challenge airports are having with all the animals – mainly dogs – passengers are bringing into the terminals. Some dogs are well-behaved; others not.

“We find them making messes on the airport carpet, interfering with the airport’s working dogs and, on occasion, biting other dogs or passengers,” said Kama Simonds, spokeswoman for Oregon’s Portland International Airport.

This week, PDX issued revised rules for animals in the airport  which include potential fines up for up to $250 for infractions such as letting your dog do its business on the floor and not cleaning it up.

Looks like Denver International Airport will have to consider adopting similar rules. This video of a woman chatting on the phone instead of cleaning up after her dog has gone viral, with folks on the Internet working together to ID her and shame her.

By the way, Denver International Airport has official dog relief areas in each concourse.

A tighter leash on emotional support animals flying on American Airlines

American Airlines becomes the latest U.S. carrier to issue renewed and tighter rules for taking emotional support and service animals on board it airplanes.

The full rules, which go into effect July 1, 2018,  are listed here, but some of the  highlights include:

To fly with an emotional/psychiatric service animal, customers must contact American’s Special Assistance Desk at least 48 hours before a flight and provide documentation.

American says validation of that documentation will include having the airline contact your mental health professional.

Certain types of animals from are now forbidden from flying as emotional/psychiatric support or service animals, including insects, amphibians, reptiles, hedgehogs, goats, ferrets, snakes, spiders, waterfowl, birds of prey, animals with tusks, horns or hooves (except specially trained horses) and animals that have an odor.

To fly for free, emotional/psychiatric support and fully-trained service animals must meet the tightened requirements, must be able to fit at your feet, under your seat or in your lap (and if flying in your lap, be smaller than a 2-year old child).

And service or emotional/psychiatric support animals will not be allowed to stick out into or block aisles; occupy a seat or eat from tray tables.

 

No new pets in cargo on United – for now

United Airlines is temporarily suspending its program for flying pets as cargo on airplanes.

The announcement came Tuesday after much-publicized incidents involving mix-ups involving pets being transported as cargo and another in which a dog died after a flight attendant insisted its owner place the in-cabin pet carrier in an overhead bin.

“We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets,” United said in a statement, “To achieve this outcome, we will partner with independent experts in pet safety, comfort and travel.”

United said it will honor reservations for transporting pets as cargo that were already in place as of March 20. But the program is not accepting new reservations until at least May 1, when United says its review process should be completed.

In its statement, United said that the PetSafe suspension would not affect pets traveling with passengers in the aircraft’s cabin.

“We are also reviewing this service and have already announced that beginning in April we will issue bright colored bag tags to help better identify pets who are traveling in-cabin,” United said.

Dog dies after United tells flyer to put carrier in overhead bin

[UPDATED statements from United at bottom of story]

United Airlines has confirmed the death of a dog on United flight #1284 Monday night from Houston to New York. The dog’s owner was instructed by a flight attendant to place the pet carrier in an overhead bin.

“Tonight I was on a plane where I witnessed a @united flight attendant instruct a passenger to place her dog carrier (with dog) in the overhead compartment. The passenger adamantly refused but the flight attendant went on with the instruction,” tweeted Maggie Gremminger, a passenger who says she seated nearby the dog owner.

Passengers interviewed by The Points Guy heard barking from inside the bin during part of the flight. “By the end of the trip, horrified passengers found the dog had died in-flight,” The Points Guy reported.

“Immediately after the flight landed, myself and another witness stayed to speak with various United employees,” Gremminger told the One Mile at a Time website, “The flight attendant denied knowing it was a dog, but the man seated next to me said he heard the flight attendant respond to the passenger, ‘You need to put your dog up here.’

United Airlines’ statement on the incident expresses condolence to the dog’s owners and assumes full responsibility for the incident which, the carrier says, is being thoroughly investigated.

“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again.” 

For now, United says it has refunded the family’s tickets and the $125 in-cabin pet charge and has offered to fund a necropsy (an animal autopsy) for the dog.

“Incidents like this one are inexcusable, and every member of the flying public should be outraged at United’s callous disregard for the safety of this family’s beloved pet,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League, “United was right to quickly apologize and take responsibility for this shocking event, but more needs to be done to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Placing an animal in an overhead bin – even in an approved pet-carrier – is not part of United Airlines’ (or any airline’s) in-cabin pet policy.

United’s policy states that, “A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times.”

Passengers are also required to make advance reservations when taking a pet in the cabin. United places a limit of four pets in the economy cabin of any flight and two pets in the premium cabins of select aircraft.

U.S. carriers are required by law to report the incidents involving the loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

For 2017, 24 incidents were reported by carriers. 18 of those incidents were on United airlines and involved injuries or deaths of animals that had traveled as cargo.

Of the 18 incidents, United reported that several animals injured themselves clawing at the interiors of their shipping containers and that medical exams determined several others died during the journey due to natural causes. An Abyssinian dog named Riko escaped from a shipping container and was hit by a vehicle and Lulu, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, died from heat stroke on a flight to San Francisco although the incident reports notes that two other animals on that flight arrived healthy.

And then there is the case of Simon the 3-foot long prize rabbit that died either during – or after – a United flight from London to Chicago.  

Update 3/14/18: United has issued an updated statement on the dog-in-the-overhead bin incident.

We have spoken to the family, our crew and a number of passengers who were seated nearby. We have learned that the customer did tell the flight attendant that there was a dog in the carrier. However, our flight attendant did not hear or understand her, and did not knowingly place the dog in the overhead bin. As we stated, we take full responsibility and are deeply sorry for this tragic accident. We remain in contact with the family to express our condolences and offer support.

 To prevent this from happening again, by April we will issue bright colored bag tags to customers traveling with in-cabin pets. This visual tag will further help our flight attendants identify pets in-cabin.

 

Kitty Xeli is the latest stress-buster at Denver Int’l Airport

To help ease the stress of travel, dozens of airports have teams of therapy dogs and handlers mingling with passengers on a regular basis.  At San Francisco Int’l Airport they let a therapy pig join the team. At Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, miniature horses are regular airport visitors.

Now a cat named Xeli (zell-ee) has joined the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) at Denver International Airport.

“Our CATS program has been extremely popular with passengers since its inception in 2015, and what a purr-fect way to take the program to the next level by introducing our first feline, Xeli,” airport CEO Kim Day said. “Just like all of our dogs, Xeli will visit passengers on our concourses, bringing joy and comfort to passengers of all ages.”

Xeli is a 12-pound domestic shorthair cat and will begin visiting the airport with her handler on October 13.

Like the dogs in the CATS program, Xeli will leashed and will be on duty to cuddle with passengers, be petted and pose for photos. And, like all the CATS, Xeli will have a trading card with her picture and assorted facts about her life, including her “pet peeves.”