Shipping animals as cargo

Shipping Animals As Cargo:


Did you know that more than two million pets and other live animals are transported by air every year in the United States? Due to the high number, federal and state governments impose some restrictions on the transportation of live animals. Furthermore, every airline has established its own company policy to ensure that all animals on transit are properly handled. As the owner or shipper, you also have obligations and have to adhere to set precautions to guarantee your animal’s well being on the ship or plane.

The federal Animal Welfare Act is enforced by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are several, and very important requirements, below are some.


* The Breeder must have less then 4 Females of any species to ship a puppy or kitten or be USDA licensed, unless other arrangements are made thru special guidelines of the USDA


* Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and must have been weaned for at least five days.


* Cages and other shipping containers must meet the minimum standard for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation and design for safe handling. (Sky kennels furnished by the airlines meet these requirements.)


* Dogs and cats must not be brought to the airline for shipping more than four hours before departure. (Six hours is permitted if shipping arrangements are made in advance.)


* If puppies or kittens less than 16 weeks of age , food and water must be provided. Older animals must have food at least every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours. Written instructions for food and water must accompany all animals shipped regardless of the scheduled time in transit.


*  Animals may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45*F unless they are accompanied by a certificate signed by a veterinarian stating that they are acclimated to lower temperatures.


*  Animals cannot be shipped COD unless the shipper guarantees the return freight should the animals be refused at destination.


In addition to the USDA rules, each airline establishes its own policies. Consequently, it is important to check with the air carrier you intend to use. However, the following are some provisions you will likely encounter at most airlines.


* Health Certificate: Airlines generally require health certificates from all shippers. So it’s a good idea to have a licensed veterinarian examine animals within ten days prior to shipment and issue a certificate stating that the animal is in good health. Airlines may not require health certificates for service animals used by passengers with disabilities.


*  Baggage Pet: A pet may be transported as baggage if accompanied on the same flight to the same destination. Some air carriers may impose a special fee or “excess baggage” charge for this service. Pets may be shipped as cargo if unaccompanied, and many airline cargo departments employ specialists in the movement of animals. Animals must always be shipped in pressurized holds. Some airlines allow the kennel to be carried in the passenger cabin as carry-on luggage if it fits under the seat.


Further to compliance with federal regulations and airline company policy, there are a number of precautions the owner/shipper can take to ensure the welfare of a shipped pet.

* Before traveling, accustom your pet to the kennel in which it will be shipped. Make sure that the door latches securely.

* Do not give your pet solid food within six hours prior to the flight, although a moderate amount of water and a walk before and after the flight are advised.


*  Do not administer sedation to your pet without the approval of a veterinarian, and provide a test dose before the trip to gauge how the pet will react.


* Be sure to reserve a space for your pet in advance, and inquire about time and location for drop-off and pick-up.


Try to schedule a non-stop flight; avoid connections and the heavy traffic of a holiday or weekend flight.


* When you board, try to tell a pilot and a flight attendant that there is a pet in the cargo hold. The airlines have a system for providing such notification, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it yourself.


* For overseas travel (including Hawaii), inquire about any special health requirements such as quarantine. 


* Write your name, address and phone number on the kennel, and make sure your pet is wearing a tag with the same information. Consider purchasing a temporary tag showing your destination address and phone number. Bring a photo of your pet, in case it is lost.


With careful planning, your pet will arrive safely at its destination. There you go, observe the above guidelines and regulations and travel safely to your destination!