Pet owners warn of perils of air travel, seek new federal rules

Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:25pm EST
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO (Reuters) - Michael Jarboe of Miami paid extra for special airline dog handlers to ensure the safety of his 2-year-old mastiff, BamBam, on a cross-country flight.

Instead, following a layover in Houston in 90-degree heat, baggage handlers found BamBam dead on arrival in San Francisco.

Just in time for the holiday travel season, a petition is calling for new federal rules holding airlines responsible for deaths of animals like BamBam. More than 100,000 signatures were logged on Jarboe's petition as of late Tuesday, more than half of them added in the past two weeks.

Jarboe said one of his goals is to make pet owners aware about the danger of airline travel.

BamBam, who died in 2012, is hardly alone.

Pets flying with their owners are killed, injured or lost on average once every 10 days, according to Mary Beth Melchior, founder of the watchdog group Where Is Jack Inc. who keeps a tally of large carriers' reports to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Her organization is named for a 5-year-old cat who died in 2011 after being lost for two months in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"You run the same risk of losing your pet as you do your luggage," said Jarboe. "It's Russian roulette."   Continued...

Michael Jarboe and his 2.5 year old Mastiff BamBam are pictured in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Michael Jarboe/Handout via Reuters