Petition Seeks to Make Air Travel Safer for Pets

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To the Transportation Safety Administration:

Please immediately implement a policy on how animals should be handled at all points of the screening process. The policy should address offering pet owners an enclosed room for the comfort and safety of their pet; how to involve experienced animal handlers when it’s necessary for the safety of the agent, pet, and travelers; and a protocol for working with the pet owner if the animal does get loose or injured during the screening process.

These are simple steps that will prevent heartbreak, enhance safety, and reduce the TSA’s liability with traveling pets.

So says a petition started four days ago, on December 17, 2012, by Karen Pascoe. The petition, hosted at, asks for a small but critical change the TSA could make that would allow our pets to travel more safely.

The petition hit 10k signatures yesterday and has well over 18k as of this writing. Petition organizers are trying to get to 25k signatures as quickly as possible.

Karen Pascoe was the guardian of Jack, the cat who famously went missing through airline employee error at the AA baggage area at JFK airport in 2011, and later died from prolonged dehydration and starvation he suffered while trapped in the building. Karen’s sister Mary Beth Melchior started the Jack the Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK Facebook page that helped Jack’s case garner worldwide attention. Karen, Mary Beth, and the thousands who followed the page got an unwelcome education in the difficulties of searching for pets lost in transit. The page continues to advocate for animal travel safety in Jack’s memory.

Please sign and share if you wish to help Karen Pascoe, Mary Beth Melchior and the Friends of Jack (FOJs) to work for changes that will save the lives of pets traveling by air.

Karen Pascoe writes at the petition site:

A little over a year ago, I moved to California when a tragic event happened. I was traveling with my 2 cats from JFK airport. It was a stressful event and a stressful time, as I was leaving my beloved New York City to take a challenging new job across the country. I researched and did my homework. I was worried about moving the cats but followed all of the airline instructions to the letter. I figured if I trusted a major airline like American Airlines to get me across the country they could get my cats there too.

Little did I know how unsafe it really is to travel with pets.

Sadly, my situation went horribly wrong. American Airlines mishandled the crates and my beautiful cat, Jack, went missing. My story touched the hearts of animal lovers around the world. We were all hopeful that he’d pull through after he miraculously fell from the ceiling in Terminal 8 at JFK where he was lost. He was alive after being lost for 61 days. It was amazing, but the trauma of being lost and trying to survive on his own left him severely malnourished and dehydrated. He was unable to recover.

I’ve learned so much since then.

Every time I hear about another tragedy in the airport it hurts. When I think about the problem, it’s highly complex. There’s a bunch of agencies and a bunch of carriers and ports and logistics. But I want to start simple. One heartbreak at a time until there aren’t any more heartbreaks. The last heartbreak I had was when a cat named Xiaohwa was lost during the TSA screen process, also from JFK.

For pet owners that need to travel, they need to clear security with their pets. For owners traveling with cats, you need to take the cat from the carrier and hold them while you take them through screening. Picture pulling a frisky kitty from the cat carrier in an open airport terminal and walking them in your arms through security. Especially at an airport like JFK where 28 million passengers travel through every year. It’s chaos and it’s not safe.

The TSA needs a new policy on how to handle pets, including asking pet owners if they’d like to be screened in an enclosed room to reduce their pet’s stress and establishing a protocol on how to react if an animal does get loose.

Sounds simple. It is simple. It could stop a lot of heartbreaks.

Please click on the link below to go to the petition.

Transportation Safety Administration: Stop losing our pets!



6 thoughts on “Petition Seeks to Make Air Travel Safer for Pets”

  1. I heard about your cat being lost at the airport – but I didn’t know that he didn’t make it. I am so very sorry – that is horrendous – and no pet owner should EVER have to suffer that preventable loss!

  2. I’m sorry for your loss and I hope it doesn’t EVER happen again to another pet owner. The airline should have better control of all pets flying. They are customers too and should get the same respect as a human. I hope they all get their acts together before they lose a human. I stay out of JFK airport because they don’t know how to handle pets flying!!

  3. It is so important to know that our beloved pets can travel safely with us. Please give air travelers respect in this matter.

  4. I had no idea they required a cat to be removed from their carrier and carried through security-anyone who has experience with cats should have foreseen such a problem occuring! None of my cats would tolerate such an experience; they would all be frightened out of their minds and try and bolt once removed from the safety of their carrier. Even inside the carrier is a scary spot with all the people roaming around in an airport. This protocall needs to be changed ASAP. So sorry for your loss, I just had one of my own die unexpectedly and there is no relief from an unexpedcted death of a loved fur baby.

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