‘Princess’ and ‘Tiger’ win the name game

Charlie Powell

A friend was recently negotiating to buy a standard poodle puppy from a breeder in San Diego. She’d unfortunately lost her old pal of 12 years and was ready for a new pup. As it turns out, the deal fell through. Communications over a contract broke down but that is a subject for another column at another time.

Had she been successful, the question becomes, how does one get a new pet from San Diego to the Inland Northwest? One answer is to transport the pup by air and it is probably the most expedient.

For air transport of pets, options are very limited, the rules are changing all the time and it can be a death sentence. Another acquaintance I wrote about several years ago was shipping a highly valued national champion hunting dog back from a competition. From the departure site, the day was warm and humid. That means on the tarmac it was hot and humid. The flight was delayed.

He became concerned and inquired about his dog at the gate. He was told all was well. Later, a second inquiry was met with a roll of the eyes and again the message was all is well, to which they added, “Sir, we keep the animals in the cargo area of the building until right before the flight.”

Eventually, the long haul across the U.S. landed and the gentleman went to retrieve his prized cargo. The looks on people’s faces and the presence of a supervisor foretold the situation. The dog died in its crate stuck in the cargo hold of the plane. There was no evidence it was held in the building. To the contrary, the evidence at the crate was damning. Warning, you may not like what you read next.

It was clear the dog died of heat stroke according to the veterinarian who conducted the necropsy. In the crate were signs the dog fought for its life, clawing the inside of the heavy plastic crate. As the delirium increased, he’d chewed the crate’s metal grate front, as evidenced by his fractured teeth both in his mouth and on the floor of the container. In the end, he’d vomited, lost his bowels and went into a fatal seizure.

I don’t know what the settlement was, but I am certain it was not enough as pets are regarded in most jurisdictions as chattel property worth little more than replacement value. Yes, even championship animals. Again, another topic for another day.

Private, nonaffiliated animal transport services have been around for a while. None, however, have gotten a strong foothold except perhaps in the horse world. A start-up for solely flying pets was around for a while but folded. Now the service is reborn with a new twist.

Animal Transportation Worldwide seized an opportunity for offering charter flights. Instead of dropping your pet off at a hangar somewhere, ATW has developed a plan where animals are picked up at pet care centers then delivered to owners’ homes, “as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible.”

They even acquired their own airline service to allow the company to grow and service customers as swiftly as possible, according to the article appearing Tuesday in Yahoo Finance.

ATW’s goal is to, “offer same-day and/or next-day shipping for pets.” With prices starting at $245, ATW states all pets travel in the cabin in comfort and luxury.”

Don’t expect service in this region soon. They serve Ohio and Missouri now with plans to expand to Utah and big money California.

Charlie Powell is the public information officer for the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which provides this column as a community service.

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