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New Rules Address Safety of Pets on Planes

Airline passenger protections aren't just for people anymore. Thanks to new rules recently announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, pet owners will soon have access to more information on the loss, injury or death of pets who fly. The new rules, which take effect Jan. 1, expand the reporting requirements from 14 to 27 airline carriers, cover animals being shipped commercially and require airlines to file annual reports detailing both specific incidents and the total number of animals carried during the year. “This rule will provide consumers with a fuller picture of an airline’s safety record when it comes to transporting animals,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.

Currently, the only information pet owners have access to is contained in DOT’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Reports. Last year, airlines reported 42 incidents, including 21 deaths, 15 injuries and six lost animals. That was down from 58 incidents the year before. “Greater transparency is a good thing,” said Caitlin Moore, a spokesperson for PetRelocation.com in Austin, Texas. “Currently some airlines provide safer experiences than others, so hopefully this new requirement will push those less pet-friendly carriers to improve the service and level of care they provide.”

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— Rob Lovitt