Airlines perturbed by proposed pet reporting rule; not qualified to inspect cargo


Washington-If government has its way, consumers may be forced to forego flying the pet-friendly skies.

Washington-If government has its way, consumers may be forced to forego flying the pet-friendly skies.

An anticipated government ruling would require airlines to report figureson how many animals they lose, how many die or are injured on planes.

Airlines deride the proposal not because they object to reporting dogor cat deaths - they argue those incidences are rare. But they don't wantto account for the well-being of every animal.

"Should we also be expected to open up every box of pet boa constrictorsto see if they're all alive? It's a physical impossibility," says MichaelWascom, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, which represents majorairlines.

"No matter how well trained, airline employees are not veterinarianswith the necessary expertise to fully protect themselves from the dangerof handling cold-blooded animals," Delta Airlines has informed theTransportation Department.

Currently, carriers are said to fly millions of animals each year fora fee. They say they support government's efforts to step up animal transportsafety.

But airlines oppose a plan enforcing them to inspect cargo more closelyand submit detailed monthly reports to the Transportation Department onanimal losses, injuries or deaths. Currently, there are no industry figuresfor pet deaths or injuries.

Congress ordered the rule in January, which was proposed last fall bythe Federal Aviation Administration.

Animal protections groups favor the reporting standards, because theysay consumers have a right to access to an airline's record for handlinganimals.

The major airlines, such as Delta, suggest that such inspections couldcost airlines more than $1 million annually.

"Many airlines are struggling for their financial survival and wouldhave no choice but to forego carrying pets in an effort to maximize revenuewhile reducing the cost of burdensome federal regulations," Wascomsays.

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