Recently, Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard had a bit of a debacle when traveling with their two Yorkshire Terriers in Australia. Customs officials soon found that the dogs had come into the country without going through quarantine, and because Amber Heard is the registered owner of the dogs, Australia is now leveling charges against her. To avoid issues like this, here are five things for you to keep in mind when traveling with pets by plane. Make sure your animal companions are safe, and you won’t face a maximum fine of 10 years in jail.
Number Five: Bring Your Pet on the Plane. Traveling by air is not the best option for your animal’s health, but especially for breeds with “pushed in” faces, such as bulldogs, pugs, and Persian cats. Those breeds have shorter nasal passages than most, making them more susceptible to heat stroke and oxygen deprivation, all of which are present when your friend travels in the cargo hold. If you have no other option but to fly, choose an airline where your companion can fly cabin with you. This is normally feasible for cats and small dogs on most airlines, for an additional fee. Let’s just hope you don’t have a pet snake.
Number Four: Prepare, if Necessary, for Cargo Travel. Unfortunately, animals are lost, killed, or injured each year on commercial flights when traveling in cargo. U.S. airlines are required to report all pet-related incidents. Before booking with a specific airline, it’s a good idea to study the airline’s performance records. Always use direct flights, and fit your pet with a collar that won’t get caught in your carrier door. It’s also a good idea to carry an up-to-date photo of your pet with you, and as soon as you have arrived at a safe place, open the carrier and examine your pet. Get medical attention immediately if necessary.
Number Three: Take Precautions for Security. Like you, your pet will have to go through airport security. Just like your luggage, your animal’s carrier will also have to be X-rayed, but you have two options. Either securely harness your animal companion so they can be contained outside of their carrier while being X-rayed, or request a secondary screening that will not require your pet to be taken outside of their carrier.
Number Two: Research Customs. Always research the country that you are visiting for any special customs requirements for pets. For example, given Australia’s isolated situation, it makes sense why they would take customs cases, like Heard’s, seriously. Take the European Rabbit, for example. This breed was introduced to Australia in the 1850s for recreational hunting and is now considered a high threat level as the population exceeds 200 million. Because it is not a native species, rabbits are now destroying other animals’ habitats due to excessive breeding (and then eating). And that is just one breed that was introduced to Australia’s ecosystem that is now wreaking havoc.
Number One: Speak Up if You See Something. Do not be afraid to speak up if you see any mishandling or abuse of any animal while at the airport. The only way we can change the way our family companions are treated is if we do something about it. Ask to see a manager of the section of the airport where the abuse occurred, and file a complaint in person. Follow up in writing, when applicable. Pets are often considered part of the family, and they should be treated as such.