How To Turn A Potential Nightmare Into A Story With A Happy Ending
Everyone has heard the terrifying stories of dogs and puppies becoming lost, misplaced, injured, or ill during airline
shipping. Any breeder who ships their dogs, whether it be nationally or internationally, will probably at some point have
a "bad experience" with an airline. Many times, however, taking appropriate precautions prior to and during shipping may help
to minimize the risks associated with shipping any animal. The following provides some information on procedures for shipping,
as well as recommendations for minimizing problems associated with shipping animals.
When breeding for quality, a breeder will not always find the perfect male to complement his bitch within a short driving
distance from his home. Though collection of semen and artificial insemination offer an alternative to shipping a bitch across
the country to the stud, costs for "do-it-yourself" semen-collection- kits can be high and add additional expense to stud
fees. Alternatively, it is not always easy to find a local veterinarian with the experience to successfully collect and preserve
semen or with enough experience to achieve a successful artificial insemination. For these reasons, some breeders depend on
shipping for continuation of their breeding program.
For prospective puppy owners, it is not always easy to find a reputable breeder or one who is breeding the specific "type"
for which an individual may be searching within a reasonable driving distance. Shipping increases a person's chances of acquiring
the quality they are hoping to find.
What are the requirements for shipping?
A dog must be at least 8 weeks old for shipping and must be examined by and receive a health certificate from a veterinarian
within 10 days of the date of shipping. Additionally, some states and foreign countries require a rabies vaccine certificate.
An airline approved crate (Vari-kennel type--no wire cages) that has enough room for the dog to stand and turn around will
be required for shipping. Some carrier services have weight restrictions. For example, Delta Dash will only ship dogs if the
combined weight of the dog and the crate does not exceed 70 pounds; above 70 pounds, the dog and crate must be shipped freight.
What is the best way to ship a puppy or a dog?
Dash service provided by Delta airlines (Delta Dash) offers counter-to-counter delivery services for animals. In such a
case, animals are dropped off at the Delta Dash office, are personally transported to the plane by a cargo person, and then
upon arriving at their destination, are personally transported to the Delta Dash office or baggage office. Additionally, Dash
services offer faster deliveries with fewer and shorter lay-overs.
Unfortunately, because of the personalized handling (carry-on/carry-off) associated with Delta Dash, animals weighing over
70 pounds (weight of crate included) are not eligible for shipping by Dash services. Under these circumstances, shipping by
freight is the alternative. In this instance, a dog is either dropped off at the airline cargo facility or at the airline
baggage counter. The animal is handled as other passenger baggage (hopefully with a little more care than given to the average
piece of luggage) in that it is driven out to the plane on a baggage transport. Because of the potential for more frequent
and long layovers, temperature restrictions often apply.
Suggestions when shipping
Tips for when the dog is traveling alone:
In advance, determine which airports service the area to which you are shipping. Choose more than one so that you can select
the best flight for the dog, even if it should mean a farther drive to the airport for either the shipper or the person awaiting
Choose a non-stop flight to the dog's destination or a direct flight (possible lay-over but the dog does not have to change
planes)—Unfortunately, non-stop flights are not always available. Direct flights minimize risk of missing a connecting
flight, however, during lay-overs in hot weather the animal should be removed from the aircraft to prevent overheating.
When sending a dog by freight, inquire about the possibility of temperature restrictions if the dog will be flying in the
summer or winter. Be aware that restrictions may be issued at an airport where the dog will be connecting and not necessarily
at the airport of its final destination. Though it is sometimes difficult to anticipate restrictions, it is a good idea to
phone the airline several days prior to the flight to find out if any temperature restrictions have been issued or are expected
to be issued. In such a case, the airline may be able to re-route the dog onto another flight through an alternate connector
When direct or connecting flights must be used, ask about temperature restrictions even if you are shipping by Dash. During
layovers, the cargo holds of planes can get very hot in warmer climates. Have the airline person handling the shipment send
an advisory ahead that there is a dog on board that should be removed from the plane during the layover, or that the dog must
be placed on a connecting flight. Also in consideration of temperature, during the summer, try to arrange late-day flights;
in the winter, arrange day-time flights. Caution in regard to connecting and late flights: find out the closing time of the
airport where the dog will be making the connecting flight. If the airport does not stay open all night and the dog happens
to miss its connecting flight, it could be stranded until the following morning.
Find out where the dog will be picked up once it arrives at its final destination. In cases where the dog is to be picked
up at the cargo office, ensure that the cargo office is still open at the time the dog arrives.
If shipping Dash, no reservation is required, however, shipping a dog freight requires advanced booking. Dash service is
pre-payment only. Cost of shipping is determined by combined weight of dog and kennel. Though Dash is expected to cost more,
sometimes shipping freight is more expensive.
Be sure to obtain a health certificate for the dog within 10 days of the flight and if required, a rabies certificate.
If the dog is traveling to a foreign country, inquire in advance if there are any other special requirements for shipping
a dog (i.e. a negative brucellosis test, etc.), or if there is a quarantine requirement once the dog arrives. (Be aware that
some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have exceptionally long quarantine periods).
If quarantine is required, confirm that the airport of final destination has an adequate facility and qualified personnel
to accommodate the dog.
The day before the flight, if shipping Dash, call the Dash Office from which the dog will be shipped just to make them
aware that you will be bringing a dog in the following day (though reservations are not required, the Dash people will appreciate
advance notice). If shipping freight, call to confirm your reservation.
The day of the flight, arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight is scheduled to depart to allow time
for the paperwork (2 hours if you anticipate a long check-in wait or if you must go through customs). Obtain flight numbers
and flight schedule. If the flight is direct or connecting, obtain the telephone numbers of the Dash/cargo office at the intermediate
airport (you will need these to track the dog if the dog does not arrive at its final destination). Obtain the confirmation
number of the shipment (the person receiving the dog will need this number to claim the dog once it arrives). Also for direct
or connecting flights, request that an advisory be sent ahead to the intermediate airport to alert them that a dog is on board,
and for all flights, request that an advisory be sent to the airport of final destination that a dog will be arriving aboard
flight # ____ .
Place ice cubes (not water) in the food trays of the Vari-kennel, hug your puppy/dog, and wish him "Good Journey."
Telephone the person on the receiving end to give them the confirmation #. They will also need photo identification before
the dog will be released to them. Have them call you to let you know that the dog has arrived safely (no matter what time
of night it may be). Likewise, if the dog does not arrive as expected, have them call you immediately so that you can begin
tracking the dog.
Tips when traveling with your dog:
When traveling with young puppies (8-12 weeks) or small dogs, purchase a special airline pet-carrier which has been designed
to fit under airline seats. In this way, the puppy or dog will travel with you as carry-on luggage.
For older puppies and larger dogs, it will be necessary for them to travel in the baggage compartment. Therefore, when
booking your own flight reservations, be sure to make reservations for the dog at the same time. Cost of shipping is less
expensive when you fly with your pet (approximately $50/crate).
Also, when booking your flight, inquire about the possibility of temperature restrictions if you will be flying in the
summer or winter. Be aware that restrictions may be issued at an airport where you will be connecting and not necessarily
at the airport of your final destination. Though it is sometimes difficult to anticipate restrictions, it is a good idea to
phone the airline several days prior to your flight to find out if any temperature restrictions have been issued or are expected
to be issued. In such a case, the airline may be able to re-route you on another flight through an alternate connector airport.
Be sure to obtain a health certificate for the dog within 10 days of the flight and if required, a rabies certificate.
If you are traveling to a foreign country, inquire in advance if there are any other special requirements for shipping a dog
or if there is a quarantine requirement once the dog arrives. (Be aware that some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have
exceptionally long quarantine periods).
The day of travel, arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight is scheduled to depart (2 hours if you
anticipate a long check-in wait or if you must go through customs). The dog and crate will be checked-in at the terminal counter
with your other baggage.
During warm weather, if you are flying direct but have a lay-over period of more than half-an-hour, ask your flight attendant
if he can have someone from baggage remove the dog from the cargo hold temporarily to prevent the possibility of the dog overheating.
Just prior to take-off, confirm with the flight attendant that the dog has been placed back on the aircraft. If you must change
planes, speak to the information person located at the end of the boarding ramp of the plane you are departing. Inform them
that you are traveling with an animal and confirm that the dog has been taken off the plane. Once you reach the Gate of your
connecting flight, inform the ticket-taker at the boarding ramp that you are traveling with an animal and have them confirm
that the dog has been transferred to the plane.
Upon arrival at your final destination, the dog is usually claimed at either the baggage office or near the baggage carousel
where the other luggage from the flight is claimed.
Other tips to remember:
Don't take anything for granted. Airport personnel do their best to accommodate their customers and get animals to their
final destinations without incident, however, it is possible for a crate and dog to slip through the cracks. Usually, the
cause is a breakdown of communication somewhere beginning with the shipper, on through the shipping office, through the baggage
personnel, all the way to the consignee. By understanding the shipping process and anticipating where potential problems may
arise, one has a better chance of reducing the likelihood of such an event.
If, in the unfortunate event, your dog does not arrive on schedule, don't panic and don't take out your frustration on
the first airline employee that answers your frantic call (you will need his assistance to track the dog and he will be more
inclined to cooperate if he is dealing with a concerned, but rational customer). If, however, the airline employee, in your
opinion, seems indifferent to the situation, then by all means politely request to speak with the manager. Begin by contacting
the airport from which the dog was shipped to ensure that the dog was indeed placed on the departing flight (it is possible
that the dog may have been refused by the cargo handlers for some reason—for example, even if the cargo office accepts
the dog, the cargo handlers may refuse the dog if they feel the crate is too small). Next, call the connector airport to determine
if the dog was either forgotten in the animal holding area, missed it's connecting flight, was never taken off the original
flight or was placed on the wrong connecting flight. For the most part, this becomes a waiting game. Food requirement is not
an issue—though not ideal, dogs can go without eating for about a week without serious consequence. The main concern
is the water requirement. Without access to water, a dog will suffer from dehydration and may, depending on the duration of
water deprivation, require emergency medical attention once located. However, in most cases the dogs are found within 24 hours.
Information on Delta's New Travel Program for Pets (which has replaced Delta Dash for live animal transport):
Shipping Your Pet
Whether you are buying a new puppy, taking a vacation with your pet or moving across country you may be faced with the
issue of shipping live cargo through the airlines. Here is some "need to know" information to help your puppy have a successful
Requirements to Ship
Animals must be at least 8 weeks of age.
Shipping kennel or cage must meet standards for size, ventilation, strength and design. Animals must have enough room to
stand up and turn around. Kennels must be equipped with one food and water cup. Kennels must be marked with shipper's name,
address and phone number and pick-up person's name, address and phone number (if different from shipper), Live Animal Stickers
should be applied to the kennel and the last time fed and watered indicated. Place newspaper or absorbent material on the
bottom of the crate.
Animal may not be exposed to temperatures of less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit unless there is an acclimation statement by
Health Certificate must be issued by a licensed Veterinarian and be no more than 10 days old.
Animals may not be brought to the airline more than 4 hours before a flight.
Animals less than 16 weeks of age must be offered food and water if transit is more than 12 hours. Older animals must have
food at least every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours.
Animals over 16 weeks must have rabies shots current.
Things to Consider
If shipping international (including Hawaii) check the quarantine laws.
Do not give your pet solid food in the six hours before the flight.
Do not give your pet sedation without your veterinarians approval.
Try to schedule a non-stop flight and avoid heavy travel times.
If you are flying with your pet, be sure to tell the flight attendant or pilot.
Place a familiar blanket, or your pets favorite toy in the kennel.
Airlines that Ship Pets
Alaska Airlines Cargo Customer Service Center at 1-800-225-2752 or Horizon Air GoldStreak
Customer Service Center at 1-800-547-7660.
Customer Service Center at 1 (888) 94ALOHA
Delta Pet First
you have questions about shipping your pet as air cargo or you want to book a flight, please contact a Delta Air Logistics
professional at 800-DL-CARGO (800-352-2746).
1-800-NWCARGO (1-800-692-2746) When your pet is traveling unaccompanied.
The carriage of pets in the aircraft cabin is not permitted. Pets may, however travel
in the air-conditioned cargo hold of the aircraft as long as they are placed in a suitable container and have the proper health,
vaccination documentations and entry permits as required by the countries of entry and/or transit. Please ensure that these
documents are in order. Advance arrangements for pets are required.
United Cargo at 800-UA-CARGO
Organizations that Ship Pets
Worldwide Pet Shipping - www.jet-a-pet.com
Pet Air - www.flypets.com/
Air Animal Pet Moving Service - www.airanimal.com
Importing and Exporting Live Animals
International Animal Export Regulations - Pick a country and download the file with
Importing Domestic Animals to Rabies-Free Areas - Quarantine requirements
Transporting Live Animals
More Information on Shipping Pets
http://www.library.uiuc.edu/vex/cpl/faq/travel.htm - Information and tips about pet travel. Included is a list of books
as well as a bibliography of articles that may give you helpful information about traveling with your pet.
Taking Your Pet on the Plane - Air travel for animals can be tricky and dangerous business, so it is important to
know what the law, the airlines and veterinarians recommend.