Where is Jack?

Making Air Travel Safe for Pets

What I Learned from Jack, Part I: Collateral Damage


In the weeks since Jack went missing, I’ve spent a lot of time with the words “collateral damage” running through my brain.  Collateral damage is “damage to people or property that is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome.”  It’s a phrase that is often used about combat situations – the civilians that are hurt in war are the “collateral damage.”

I do believe that whatever happened to Jack was not intended… however he got out of his crate, I believe it was an accident (though we will probably never know for sure).  And because of the way things proceeded from that moment on, there is no doubt in my mind that Jack was absolutely “collateral damage” from AA’s perspective – Jack’s being lost, and even his death, was “unintended or incidental” to their mission to fly passengers and their baggage from Destination A to Destination B.

And that is where the problem lies – to Karen, to me, to the 26,000+ people who have “liked” Jack’s Facebook page.  What happened was not “incidental.”  It may have been unintended, but it was definitely not “incidental.”  It was absolutely horrifying, agonizing, and devastating.  A conscious being was left to fend for himself, scared and alone.  And no one who had the power to look for him seemed to be actually looking.

But from AA’s perspective, Jack being lost was nothing more than an unfortunate error.  They could continue to operate their airline just fine even though Jack had gone missing.  They could continue to book the reservations, fly the planes, and even get (most of) the baggage to the right place while Jack was hiding in the ceiling at JFK.  This was, by definition, “unintended and incidental” to their intended outcome – to profitably run an airline.

And that’s why both the corporate people and many of the people on the ground at JFK responded they way they did: it’s not that they’re bad people or they didn’t care about Jack, but they all have jobs to do, and finding a lost cat was not in anyone’s job description.  (Indeed, based on the comments on the AA fb page, it seems that finding lost luggage that wasn’t able to move wasn’t even a major part of anyone’s job!)  So even though the importance of finding a lost and scared kitty was apparent to Karen, to me, and later to all the people who followed this journey, it just wasn’t within the scope of American Airlines’ “intended outcome.”

And, in a way, that’s understandable.  After all, every person walking on the planet creates “collateral damage” as we go through our daily lives: we step on bugs, we shrink the polar ice cap by relying on fossil fuels, we inadvertently hurt peoples’ feelings.  And we can’t always address all that damage and make things right.

But as pet parents, each of us needs to be aware that when we travel with our pets by air, the airlines ARE NOT EQUIPPED to address, in a way most of us would feel is adequate, the problems that can arise when they handle our pets.  If traveling with pets in cargo is determined to be the best, if not the only option, to keep a family together, pet parents must go the extra mile to insure their pet is safe throughout the journey.  “Trust” is not an option here.  The airlines are not “experts” in pet travel.  Even if they have transported many pets, they have also had many accidents.

And as animal lovers, we have another responsibility: to think about WHY it is that the airlines would want to take the risk of transporting pets?  And the answer is actually quite simple.  It is not pets that are family members that are most often shipped via airline cargo.  It is the animals (most of them dogs) that come from commercial breeders that are most often shipped this way.  Commercial breeders (often called “puppy mills”) are large-scale breeding facilities that ship dogs to puppy stores, pet shops and individuals around the country.  Animals that are shipped this way are considered commercial cargo, and US Department of Transportation Pet Incident Reports do not have to be filed if one of these animals dies in transit.  We do not know how many of these (mostly) dogs die under the airlines’ watch every year.  What we do know, however, is that the airlines make a great deal of money shipping these animals from puppy mills to the stores.

So when those of us who are concerned about this issue ask,”why don’t the airlines just stop flying pets in cargo if they’re not willing to deal with the potential consequences,” the answer is that shipping pets does help them create their intended consequence: a better bottom linen their financial statements.   And as long as commercial breeding is allowed, commercial shipping will happen… and there is a strong lobbying force out there to insure this.

The airlines are willing to allow the “collateral damage” of lost, injured, and dead animals to continue because, to them, it is “incidental.”  For those of us who care about animals – whether they are our own or the millions that are bought and sold every year (not to mention the millions more that are euthanized) – there is no life that is “incidental.”  Maybe we can’t save them all today, but at least we can bring awareness to the fact that even more are being lost, injured, and killed than most people know about.

81 thoughts on “What I Learned from Jack, Part I: Collateral Damage

  1. I didn’t know the majority of pets shipped in cargo were from puppy mills:-/ There are many responsible breeders who ship animals; of course, there are many who don’t/won’t. Knowing what we know now, we would never have had our dogs shipped from Denver to San Jose, CA. They were fine upon arrival, thank doG, but knowing what happened to Jack, I will never allow them to be shipped again. I’m still grieving for Jack as though he had been my own. Biggest hugs to you and Karen.

  2. Loved the blog! There is such a need for awareness. As you say, many people are not necessarily animal haters or abusers, they just don’t care enough. They know the animals are living creatures but for some reason, people don’t view them as we do. Perhaps they’ve never known the love of a fur baby or a puppy. There is nothing to compare once you have. I think this is a great step. Awareness, petitions, and relentless activity towards change is a must. Thanks for your hard work!

  3. I’m so happy that he is safe. Love your posts about his travels….. Jeanne

  4. Well this is exactly why I refuse to allow my pet to travel in cargo and why I have decided that my family will never fly American Airlines again. When “opportunities” arise to prove what type of company you are and you don’t take the opportunity to prove to your customers that you have a heart…you lose them forever. And word spreads quickly of your behavior so many, many people will boycott American Airlines for a lifetime. Justice for Jack!

  5. Well said! I totally agree with each and every point you made about pets and the fact that they should not be flying in cargo. Yes, I do hope this whole horrible and devastating result in Jack’s death brings to light a new awareness of how many pets are lost and how the airline industry must change!

  6. Beautifully articulated. Living beings are not ‘collateral damage.’ Jack was not, nor is any other innocent whose life is placed in the hands of commercial transport, ‘collateral damage.’ “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” (Mahatma Gandhi.) I’m thinking we’re not so great right now. Rest in peace, sweet Jack. You are loved and remembered by many.

  7. i agree so much with u. i dont know what i would do with out my cat and dog they are my babies. i cant haave any of my own. something needs to be done about this. someone needs to be held accountable for this.

  8. Well stated. Thank you wording it in a way that would appeal to all people… without the crazy (meaning crazy cat people, in which group I do include myself). This should get your point across to all people. I never thought of the puppy mills shipping. Ah, just another thing to protest. But we do live in a capitalist country so that is what happens. Money money money. I hope that I never have to transport a pet via cargo, I never want to be put in a situation that I have to, but I know that it may happen. Thank you for all of your efforts and updates.

  9. Wow. You may want to have someone in the legal field read this. Could be a good way for you to get yourself sued by AA.

    • ~Perhaps you are from the legal field? I’m not sure what mentioned in the story about Jack you find would give AA grounds for suing anyone. There has already been enough bad press aimed at AA due to the unfortunate accidental escape of Jack, the two month period he was missing because for some reason no one could find him & sadly his death. Do you really think they want to keep this story in the press? I believe the best thing they can do is pay the vet bill, as they said they would, work on how animals being shipped on their flights are handled & pray something like this never happens again. The day Jack started his journey to the west that sadly was not to be, he was for the most part unknown. He was not a famous singer, not a famous actor, not famous at all. He was a beautiful bundle of fur & was so much LoVed by his mother Karen. But not long after he was lost & thanks to the wonderful world of Facebook, he did become quite famous, gaining over 26 thousand followers watching, hoping & praying for a happy ending. I wish I had never heard of Jack because that would mean none of this had ever happened & he would now be happily living in his new home. But it happened, didn’t get the ending we were praying for, but find comfort in knowing Jack is no longer in pain. Didn’t mean to make this so long, sorry,& I am not from the legal field, so if I am missing something here, feel free to reply.~

    • ?????? Stating facts is not slanderous at all…. Nothing in this Blog is legally questionable.

    • This is absurd. There is no way she will ‘get herself sued by AA’, it’s just preposterous. Please do not post sensational comments are nothing more than an attempt to frighten the poster.
      Yes, I’m in the ‘legal field’, and no, there is no harm in wriitng anything stated here.

    • Wow and if anyone dared sue her a sh it storm would come upon AA like no other. IN fact I think AA should be taken to court for what happened to Jack. She is posting a FACT…her cat was lost by AA and she has every right to write about it.

      There is always an idiot and the crowd and I guess that is you huh?

      I no longer fly AA at all based on what happened to Jack. I have always flown my Pets on other carriers but now with all these airline merging its tought to pick any of them.

      It looks like AA is about to go into bankruptcy….serves the right.

  10. beautifully written

  11. I wonder if collateral damage would be a term they designate to a person who gets killed because of their negligence? I’m so tired of animals being though of as something disposable, as if they were damaged or lost or dead you can always get a replacement.

  12. Well put. However, my pet’s safety is not incidental to me. They are a very important part of my family, and I will always do whatever I can to ensure their safety. I will never ever fly and let my pet be put into cargo. I will have to do whatever it takes to make sure that my pet is safe wherever I go.

  13. Very, very well said. I am a “friend of Jack” from Facebook, as well as an animal “mom” and lover myself. It’s great to see that Jack’s journey and loss are not going to be in vain. His life and ordeal will raise awareness, and hopefully help to bring about change, one flight at a time.
    Best of luck, to you and your family.
    Rest in peace, brave Jack. You won’t be forgotten.

  14. Inasmuch as I am on the road and only able to scan your post, Mary Beth, I want to reflect on a true and well-considered response. I must react at a gut level as both a pet parent and “corporate” individual. I am completely raw as a result of the horrific ordeal Jack was forced to endure. Yes, we Friends of Jack were there with him and with Karen and you – and still are! I understand the rules, the regulations, the procedures… But I also know that many of us who understand cat behavior and who have the gift to see through their eyes, informed “the authorities” as to where to look. We were ignored. Flagrantly ignored, while AA mounteda new “travel with your pets” cpaign! That really frosted it for me! All it would have taken was ONE concerned, caring person to pop a ceiling tile and check that one “up” place we counseled them to look in. I am personally aware of concerned individuals employed at JFK who did look for Jack. They were not AA employees. Only AA employees could have found him. I reel at the utter stupidity and needless suffering in this situation. There is a tremendous need to reform this industry, sadly, Jack should not have fallen victim. Guess this was my considered response after all. I will love Jack forever!

    • True… ceiling tiles… my OWN cats would get into the ceiling tiles in my basement to sleep next to the heat ducts. I worked at a cat shelter and we had at least 6 different cats that were crazy get up into the ceiling tiles (it was a cage free facility) and If I saw ceiling tiles and was looking for a scared cat it would not take me but about 10 seconds to get up on a ladder and pop a ceiling tile. Who knows how long he was right there. But if it was a long time, I have to agree, it makes me angry as well.

  15. Very well said! It is so very sad that it always comes down to the money that can be made. And because they’re “just animals” a little “collateral damage” is some how ok.

    Even if it were my suitcase, the airline, by agreeing to transport me and that suitcase from point A to point B, is accepting responsibility for doing that safely and in a timely manner. But if they lose my suitcase, in a couple of weeks they give me a check (generally for WAY less than the value of said suitcase and it’s contents) and expect me to be happy. So there I am with a check but without my favorite shirt or the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, or the note that my child slipped into my bag before I left for that business trip. All things that can’t be replaced. But I have my check. I’m supposed to be happy and they couldn’t care less. And when the lost item is your furry best friend? Oh well, just go to the Humane Society and get another. That attitude is just wrong!

    When did customer service die? And what about integrity? I know I’m showing my age when I say that I miss the time when there weren’t big corporate entities – they were large companies filled with compassionate people that were eager to 1) do the right thing and 2) do the absolute best job they possibly could.

    Keep up your efforts to get laws implemented in Jack’s name!

  16. Karen… this is a well-written and thought-provoking blog entry.

    You could have easily used this blog to vent your anger / frustration / etc. towards American Airlines. Instead, you have written eloquently and (I’m not quite sure how you did this, knowing what you went through with Jack) objectively about the issue of lost pets and the business reasons why they will never be a priority for the airlines.

    As you have been advocating, the best way to attack this problem is to educate fellow pet owners to the dangers of transporting via cargo. Because the airlines see lost / injured / dead pets as “collateral damage” it’s up to each owner to proactively protect their pet during travel.

    If one pet is saved as a result of your advocacy, then Jack did not die in vain.

  17. I just realized that Mary Beth wrote this blog, not Karen (see comment above). My apologies, Mary Beth!

  18. One time, in 1999 I think it was, I flew from the states to Birmingham, England but my luggage flew to Birmingham, Alabama. It took several days to even find out where it was, and over a week to finally get it back. Fortunately my luggage was just clothing, etc., and it was so long ago that I don’t even remember which airlines it was…but the most important lesson I learned was that I would never, ever fly my pets in cargo regardless of my destination.

  19. Mary Beth: This is really well done! It points to all the aspects of “pet travel.” You hit the nail on the head when you speak of the monetary reasons why airlines keep flying pets. I do not believe that animals are disposable; however, many people do. Even in Jack’s case, there are people who said, “It’s just a cat.” I can’t begin to fathom having an attitude like that, but many people do. And like you point out, the airlines are large corporations with employees who aren’t paid to take care of animals. I just hope that Jack’s great appeal to people will bring enough interest to this important issue to make changes for the better. WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY! Keep up the good work. Jack lives!!!

  20. I followed sweet Jack’s story with horror, and was heartbroken when he lost his life as a result of having to fend for himself. I am so sad and sorry for his family and friends.

    I agree this industry must be reformed ~ as this must never be allowed to happen to any other animal. If the airlines are not prepared to treat animals with the same care and respect they would humans ~ then they should NOT be flying them. What happened to Jack may have been an accident ~ but it was almost certainly an accident that was the result of careless treatment by handling staff. The airline’s actions once Jack escaped were also seriously lacking and with out doubt contributed to Jack’s suffering. They should be ashamed.

    I do not think any responsible owner would allow their cherished pets to fly, after what happened to Jack.

    RIP Jack. If love could have saved you, you would be with your mom now.

    Jan (Milo and Alfie’s mom)

  21. It still breaks my heart when I think of poor Jack alone, scared and hungry for so long. Thinking of him as collateral damage is something I will never comprehend. I did not know or had never thought about the numbers of dogs shipped by breeders. Thank you for enlightening me.

  22. Standing Ovation!

  23. Very well thought out and presented, making me to shed yet another tear for Jack.

  24. Jack’s tragedy caused us all to stop and think about how to avoid this from ever happening again. Hopefully a law can be passed in his name that would require the airlines to secure a tracking device on each animal that is transported along with extra measures to ensure the safety of each ‘animal’ passenger. Jack became so beloved among all of us followers. His death was felt by all of us, but not as deeply as his loved ones and survivors. We feel for you and applaud you for turning tragedy into action, great job and good luck!

  25. Well said. I just can’t stop tearing up when I read anything you put out there. Your strength, and written word, is (are) remarkable.

  26. Very well said and very informative.

  27. Very Well Said Mary Beth!!!! Changes will happen!!

  28. Jack’s tragic story really touched my heart. Maybe because I am a cat owner, maybe because I experienced the death of my 19 year old cat, Daniel 2 years ago, or maybe because it was such a heart wrenching situation. At any rate, I became personally involved following the story…. It broke my heart to read that Jack had succumbed to his injuries and effects of starvation.

    What I learned from Jack is that much as we like to have them travel with us, it’s just not always safe in cargo. From the baggage handlers to the conditions in the cargo area, when they leave your care and your sight, you must rely on other’s to do the right thing… Seems like under the seat carriers are the safest method to fly a cat even if you have to pay for an additional seat to accommodate more than one cat…

    I did fly cats many years ago when we moved to FL from PA, and I will never forget the look of sheer terror on their faces when we retrieved them… Eyes as big as saucers and all pupils. They stayed that way for about a week. I vowed then to never fly another cat in cargo.

    My heart really goes out to Karen and all… This was a real tragedy.

    God bless all..

  29. Mary Beth: Well thought out beginning. Two points! First: As was stated by another post, consider having a lawyer (maybe one will step forth as a FoJ follower) to approve anything you blog. Don’t give the airline(s) any ammo to sue you. Second: The unavailable video tape bothers me. Legal action needs to prevent it’s loss. Seeing the tape will either establish that Jack’s escape was an accident, following poor judgement by a baggage handler or (And this wouldn’t surprise me) anger and cruelty doled out as they attempted to capture Jack in those first minutes before Karen was notified. Scary? Yes. Possible? Yes! Factual proof to the degree of AA’s employee’s responsibility can only be proven/dis-proven with Karen or you seeing the tape. I rest my case.

  30. I’m an English professor, and I can’t help but take the opportunity to discuss with students this culture that’s become disposable. We live in a “throw away” society, and one that has accepted, for better or worse, the outcome of both damage and building. It so plainly obvious that both the environment and sentient beings that inhabit our surroundings take a beating. I tell my students, you have to pay attention because if you don’t know one else will. I moarn for Jack and for every animal soul that want’s to live but is forced to dodge cars on roadways, hide behind dumpsters, and wonder into suburbs from depleted woods just to find food. There are days that I have lost faith in the human race, and I so hoped that Jack would pull through because the world needs happy endings; but I am hopeful as I see these posts from people from around the world who take moments from there day to care.

  31. Two words … Pet Airways. Let’s support them, invest in their company, and hope they grow so that any animal that needs to fly flies with them. They get it … they just need the money & customers to expand to meet the need.

  32. Forgot to mention, great piece. Let’s hope this opens the eyes of many readers about puppy mills too! That would be a great addition to Jack’s legacy!

  33. The reality is that airlines are corporations. And the purpose of the corporation is to maximize profits for the lowest production cost, be it a widget or a service. They only care about an incident when it may affect their corporate image and hence their bottom line or stock price at the risk of losing customers.
    This has been proven time and again – by oil companies (Gulf Oil Spill), mines (Massey Energy Co – VA mine disaster), manufacturer’s (E. coli outbreaks from meat packers) and yes, even airlines-which is why they had to pass a law to let people out of a plane if they were stalled on the tarmac more than 3 hours. Without legal pressure, there would be no action on their part. Even with legal action, they can usually lobby down to just a fine for these incidents and pass the cost of payment on to their customers in the form of higher fees.
    This is life in the kleptocracy that is America. If you really want change for the good, start by using your constitutional rights and vote. We are saddled with the congress and regulations we have because most of us don’t voice our opinions at the ballot box.
    In the meantime, we need to keep the pressure up, so that changes are made with respect to handling pets during transport.

  34. I find nothing in the blog that is with malicious intent or libelous. I believe these forums are protected under the Freedom of Speech Amendment. It is an opinion written by one person about her personal experience and how she feels this corporation handled her cat’s disappearance. I for one will never let a pet fly cargo if that need should arise. I would rather drive cross country listening to the cat meow than to worry for a few hours if she or he is okay. I followed Jack’s journey from day one and was delighted when he was found and profoundly saddened by his death. I have lost pet “children” too and I know first hand the heart break their deaths cause. So, for all of the people out there that view animals or pets as expendable or replaceable are the very people that should never own pets. My cats give me unconditional love every day and I cannot imagine what my life would be without them. They are my family and as such will continue to treat them with concern, love and kindness.

  35. So beautifully written. You have a wonderful gift with words. I can not read anything from Jack’s page without crying again. Until Jack disappeared, I had no idea what went on behind the scenes. I hope, together, we can get real change to happen.

  36. Brings it all back. I followed Jack the Cat’s story on Facebook right from the beginning and still to this day, I cry for him and get so angry for his senseless loss, which I blame AA for. This should have never happened, but it did and now I hope awareness will be made in Jack the Cats memory. I believe this is a step in the right direction.

  37. Well, the puppy mill wrinkle is news to me, interesting. It goes some way to explain how the airlines see loss of pet life as inconsequential. Could a public information campaign have an impact on that?

    I’ve said elsewhere that I think the airlines **should** have a responsibility to inform pet owners of their loss record; add to that a vivid explanation of the conditions pets will experience flying in the cargo hold.

    Pet owners who must fly their pets, and who pay to do so, don’t just need better options, they need to demand responsibility from the carriers, both through the courts and the the regulatory agencies. (previously posted on FB)

    • Great idea BjeanyB about having the airlines show their loss ratio for pets. I mean we now have restaurants and stores showing calorie counts on EVERYTHING, warnings lables on EVERYTHING, warnings about potential child molesters. Why not have something showing warnings for pets and loss ratio’s.

  38. I just learned about the puppy mill link to the airlines recently. There is at least one petition circulating through the internet asking one of the airlines to discontinue shipping animals for commercial reasons.
    I am so sorry about Jack. How frustrating, knowing he was so close and no one thought to look for him there! My heart aches for his loss, knowing how I would feel if it were my cat. Best of luck to you in your efforts to improve the plight of animals being flown in cargo for any reason.

  39. Mary Beth, eloquently written, thoughtful, and powerful. The combination of Jack’s situation, your efforts on behalf of Karen and Jack, and FoJs uniting will make a difference in bringing about the needed changes in how our pets are handled by commerical airlines, and recovered.

    When you mentioned collateral damage, I also thought of the abandoned kitties encountered by FoJs in their search for Jack. Many of them became endangered with the potential for terrible outcomes, i.e., ending up in kill shelters, and poor Lucy with her necrotic leg. However, due to your thoughtfulness and caring, and your ability to mobilize this community of FoJs in honor of Jack’s memory, many kitties have been saved, and a couple of dogs too!

  40. Well said, Mary Beth. You are very articulate and you bring out a number of points that are from both sides of the issue.

  41. It’s not just American Airlines….. they ALL do it and feel it is incidental. It just happens that Jack lived for a reason – even though he was PTS later. Jack drew attention to the crappy way the airlines (all of them) disregard animals with no more regard than a piece of lost luggage. Bless his precious little heart.

  42. Hi Marybeth, it’s Marilynne (red hair), who met you and Karen at JFK during the first FOJ organized search with Bonnie. I adopted the first “Jackie,” the little abused kitten ducttaped in a box and thrown outside the airport on the boulevard. Your blog post is spot on, and the photo of Jack is my personal favorite. Ron and & I feel very connected to Jack and his people, and are truly grieving this gentle boy. We just received our shirts, and will share Jack’s cause. We lost Jack needlessly, but others live in loving homes in his name, and perhaps others will be saved through awareness. Peace. MT

    • Peace to you, Marilynne!!! I hope you and Ron are having a lovely time with that first little Jackie!! PM me some pics and I’ll post them on fb!!! Thanks again for all your care, concern, and your willingness to come out and help!! 🙂

      • Marybeth, for my own paranoid, quirky reasons I don’t activate my facebook. I’m a high school teacher, and for the 5 min.I activated, I was flooded with people and stuff I found overwhelming. I also don’t trust it, but I have to say, I have a newfound respect for the social mobilization piece–Jack! I saw Jack’s story originally on an MSN news feed blurb and found your public wall. I monitored it and activated for a couple of minutes to sign up. Then I met Nicole and I worked through her email. Long story…sorry. If you would like to email me at briatroi@gmail.com I will attach photos. Jackie is a hellcat and we’re trying to tame her. She is cute as heck, but tormenting my Honeypie to death…very dominant. My big male, Gizmo, handles her well. Please email me privately and you can post the pics. Thanks, MT

  43. Very well written….I need not say more, it’s all been said already! I will never forget Jack!

  44. Very well written. And I am so sorry that it ended the way it did. When I read the AA press release that Jack was euthanized, I cried. I cried at the unfairness and injustice of the whole situation. I cried that Jack had to suffer so much. And I grieved for the animals that have died at the hands of the airlines. I am appalled at the lack of controls in place for handling animals by the airlines. To the airlines, Jack truly was collateral damage. The same applied to the puppy that was transported and died on AA from being exposed too long. The airlines simply do not care. And it is not right. Our pets are our family. To the airlines, they are revenue. Something is broken.

  45. Well said! His memory deserves that we change the policies and procedures around how pets are handled in transit!

  46. Well said, I followed Jack’s plight and am glad to see your efforts continuing. You have a strong base of FoJ that are here and ready to help you!

  47. Thank you for your persistence, and compassion.

  48. Well said & very informative. I think you have 26,000 people ready & willing to help with the fight for change. Jack will always have a very special place in all of our hearts!

  49. I hear the sound of a nail being hit on the head over and over reading this….

  50. So well written…and the big truth is that the airlines are not equipped to safely handle pet travel. I still cry over Jack and what he went through….I hope we can all change how the airlines take care of our furbabies if and when we have to travel by air with them. There is lots that can be done to ensure their safety. Jack will always be in my heart…

  51. the whole story was very sad and tragic, It would be so simple for American Airlines (and all airlines) to fit each pet with a simple collar with an rfid chip embeded would allow each animal to be individually tracked if needed. the technology has become very inexpensive (even places like Wal-Mart use it now to keep track of inventory). A simple tracking device such as the stores use for inventory could be used to locate any individual pet fitted with a collar. RIP Jack

  52. I will always be sad that Jack was not found earlier. After the 2 month ordeal, his hospital battle just showed those of us who saw him just how incredibly brave he was. A beloved pet who brought such joy to his devoted Mama & brother Barry. His life was cut short by sheer stupidity & carelessness. I am just glad that Karen could see him again & not be left wondering what ever happened to him. & that he did not end up a corpse rotting in the ceiling. His final days were spent with people devoted to helping him & I think he understood that.

    • Lynne, bless you for being there at the end with the other FOJs who surrounded our boy with love for his final journey. I, too, am glad that he and Karen could be reunited and we could all have closure, lousy though it was. Thanks for working with Ron and me that Saturday night (handing out flyers), and on the first facebook jfk run. I am honored to have done even a little on behalf of this wonderful animal, and be associated with you and all the other devoted searchers.

  53. RIP, Jack. A very sad end for a beloved family member. How Jack must have suffered, injured and hungry, hiding in fear like a kitten waiting for his mom to come find him.

    I agree with using science-based recovery techniques whenever possible, like trained pet detection dogs that Kat Albrecht’s group has. I wonder if anyone consulted with her group? I think much more can be done to find and recover lost and displaced pets and as a former police officer, Kat would be excellent at addressing both the search aspects and special security concerns at airports. I hope she’s provided with the details so she can review them. Perhaps the airlines could work with her to develop improved guidelines, policies and techniques? Lost pet recovery or proactive redemptions is one of the issues I will be bringing up at a future animal welfare committee meeting where I live.

    • Hi Chris. Kat and her group are great! I’ve worked with many of the MPP MAR teams in the past and have consulted with Kat on numerous occassions, quite a few times during my search for Vivi, the Whippet that was lost by Delta Airlines back in 2006.
      It was one of the Missing Pet Partnerships tracking teams which I recommended, that AA used to track for Jack.

  54. I am so glad you started this blog so you can keep us informed on all things JACK. Just wanted to let you know that I made a donation to my local no-kill shelter in Jack’s name.

  55. I am so glad you started this blog – I was able to read your Facebook posts but not comment, since I am not on Facebook.
    Just one more thing to add to the goals, from my experience: screening of pets who will go onboard should be in a closed room. We flew with my daughter’s cat this past summer and had her in the cabin. However she had to be taken out of the carrier to put the carrier through the x-ray machine, and we had to walk through the magnetic detector with her. She was totally freaked form the noises at security, scratched and struggled and almost managed to get out of my arms. We did have a harness and leash on her, but I still feel sure she would have bolted if she had gotten down, and would have run off and been very hard to find.

  56. I don’t comment on Jack’s FB page because i have no words, only deep sadness that this even happened to him, but i follow him as close as possible. Please know that my heart goes out to you. Jack (or any other furbaby for that matter) deserve to be treated as if they don’t exist…and in my opinion that is just what A.A. did…they SAID they did what they could to find & return him home safely but those words don’t mean that’s what they did. Following this whole horrible incident, I believe they’re 1/2 @ss3d attempt to find Jack and all the words they spit out were to do just what you’re talking about here…trying to prevent “collateral damage” to their “business”. Tho my heart goes out to the dogs bread in puppy mills, Jack was not one of them, he was well loved by the humans he owned and it is my hope that you can tie them up in court, with LOTS of media coverage, to show everyone who doen’t yet know about Jack, just how careless not only A.A., but other airlines as well, are with the fur-family that we love so much. Justice for Jack!!, no matter how it’s achieved ❤

  57. that is, DON’T deserve to be treated as if they don’t exist…sorry for the typo.

  58. I know petitions were set up not long after Jack first went missing, and of course I signed it…does anyone know however, if serious reforms are now going to be initiated for the safety of pets on airplanes? Also any word whether Jack’s owner plans to sue AA?

  59. So well written and you answered my questions. I am glad you filled in the blanks for people who might not know all the details. I still would like to know how Jack got into the
    ceiling tiles exactly. It always helps to write down your deepest thoughts and concerns in
    life and your wishes for the future. And, at least we all found out how many cats lovers there are out there. We can become friends via facebook thru a tragedy that brought us together when we all so hoped the end would be successfully rosy. I think it is so wonderful how people who help animals during the day via their profession, also try to help them after hours and promote the efforts of others….so it goes on day and night….
    I adore cats and always wanted to provide a haven for them. My way of doing so, right now, is to keep dry food outside and water available on a regular basis and any that might
    happen to come into my yard, become mine so to speak. I have 6 of my own and 1 feral female kitten that are truly mine. I will have to solve the feral kitten problem soon because I will have more kittens at some point. I have never had this problem and I am not acting on it with speed and attention, as I should. Please write more and tell us your thoughts and facts from Jack’s short life as they come to you.

  60. I just found out about Jack today when I saw the t-shirts and my heart goes out to you. I feel so bad for what Jack had to endure and wish the ceiling tiles had collapsed sooner. Cats are experts at getting into all sorts of hidey holes, especially when they are scared, but not so good at getting out. I’ve had to take down ceiling tiles, crawl over and under pipes to the far corner of a crawl space, and even push a blanket under a shed for our cat to lay on so I could pull her out.
    I’ve heard of several ‘airport’ stories where cats are lost and some, left sitting on tarmacs with the other baggage, freezing to death.
    It seems to me that once people become part of a large corporation they lose their humanity, expecting someone else to deal with something outside their work description. It’s hard to believe that there are no ‘animal people’ working for AA who are willing to help one of the helpless. Unless, maybe, they weren’t allowed to? Even so, they make me sick.
    I would drive across country with my gang before entrusting them to any airline.

  61. Hi Mary Beth:

    I have responded before to Jack’s Fb page, and your blog here previously. I am a flight attendant for USAirway’s, and gave you all some insight on pet travel, the security regulation’s, and my frustration of not knowing if I would be allowed into American’s secured area’s, being an airline person, to help look for Jack. I certainly wanted to try, but felt my hands would be tied. Dealing with another airline that you don’t work for can be limiting.

    Interestingly enough, I came in off of a trip this morning. While I was on the employee bus to our parking lot there were several of the ramp agents on the bus. Their jobs are to transport baggage to/from the terminals onto to the tarmac, and load/unload the planes, and transport baggage to connecting flights, and baggage claim. I had a chance to speak to them about Jack’s situation at JFK. They were shocked that AA reacted the way they did. These big guy’s shook their heads in disbelief when I said Jack was lost for two months, and was found, and didn’t survive his ordeal. They couldn’t believe it either.

    I asked them what our procedures were for transporting animals. I have worked for Piedmont/USair for nearly 29 years, and have seen animals being transported in their crates on the tarmac. To my knowledge and memory, the animals were protected from the heat and cold, and transported by van to and from the terminal. The ramp agents, this morning informed me that we don’t allow animals to be transported any longer in cargo. I am not sure when this went into effect. I think it has been quite sometime. I am happy that we don’t allow them, for the sake of the animals. Is this because of lawsuits, or incident’s in the past I don’t know, but will try to find out. I feel sure that it has to be the latter. However, careful employees are, there is always room for human error. Unfortunately human error is the cause of many bad things.

    The guy’s did say we transport crickets, and fish. I have seen the fish boxes with LIVE FISH on the side of the boxes, on the conveyor belts. In the past I also remember that the Captain would have on his paperwork that we were transporting a dog/cat in the cargo area. Many times, I had passengers tell a cabin crewmember that their pet was in cargo, and ask us if we could verify they were boarded. We always checked on that before we left the gate.

    This is a long road to proceed on, but at least now you know there is one major carrier out there that doesn’t allow transport of pets in the cargo area any longer. That could be a stepping stone for lobbying, that one major carrier has STOPPED the transport of pets, and other animals from breeders.

    My heart is still with you all on this matter. I cannot get Jack off my mind, and it still hurts my heart that he suffered so much, and he died of pure negligence on AA part. His legacy will lead us on, and we should all work hard to bring awareness to the forefront of the danger’s of shipping pets in cargo. Hopefully, stiffer regulations, and Jack’s Law will go into effect.

    I hope this helped you some. Please contact me if I can be of any assistance. My thoughts remain with Karen, Jack, and you, Mary Beth. Jack touched so many lives. He was a beautiful boy, and brought so many people together for his cause, because we are a loving and caring group of people, that wanted desperately for Jack to be ok. It still haunts me today to think of his unnecessary peril. It breaks my heart. I am still in disbelief that he is gone. I had such high hopes for his recovery. It seems all of us were shocked, thinking he was getting better. I had to express that one more time. It is just not fair what he went through, and eventhough he wasn’t our kitty, we are all grieving with you.

    Kindest regards,


  62. First- I’m so very, very sorry to hear Jack passed away.

    Second-” You will be sued by AA” sounds like a threat to me-one concocted by a guilty party. I’m pleased that someone with real legal knowledge stepped up and stood up to this moron.

    Third- Karma is a bitch. American Airlines just filed for bankruptcy. Enough said.

    Hopefully enough of us will keep an eye on the airlines so what happened to Jack never happens to any other pet again.

Leave a Reply to Natalie Simmon Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s