Almost every day, beginning August 26, 2011 (the day after Jack went missing), I have spent some time wishing I had done something different. Wishing I had INSISTED that I fly out to Cali with Karen, each of us taking one cat under the seat. Wishing I had gone up to New York to look at her cat carriers myself. Wishing I had told her to take Jack under the seat and let Barry fly cargo. Wishing, wishing, wishing… but as the old saying goes, “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” I could be riding a whole stableful of horses right now.
- I’ve learned that airlines really do consider companion animals to be luggage.
- I’ve learned that there are a whole bunch of different entities that have a voice in if and how lost animals are searched for when they are lost in an airport.
- I’ve learned that there are a few laws in place to protect animals that are being transported; and like all laws, sometimes they are violated. These violations seem to have almost no punishment attached to them.
- I’ve learned that there are an awful lot of people out there that are willing to give their heart to a cat they’ve never met in person.
- I’ve learned that keeping animals safe when they travel by air is a much bigger and more complex problem than I ever would have imagined.
Now if I had just gone up to NYC and flown with Karen, Barry, and Jack out to Cali, I never would have learned all this.
BUT I DIDN’T. I DIDN’T PREVENT THE PROBLEM WHEN I COULD HAVE.
So instead of having two anonymous cats living happily in the California sunshine, we now have one poster boy for safety in pet air travel, a Facebook page with 25,000 followers, and a new non-profit that seeks to make sure Jack is not just another statistic on a “redacted” report to the government.
If I had prevented this from happening all these “exciting” developments wouldn’t have happened.
What is even more important, though – if I had prevented this from happening, a very frightened Jack wouldn’t have spent 61 days crawling around in the ceiling at JFK airport, hungry and thirsty and alone.
And that is why we keep going on this mission.
Luckily, there is some good news… we have made some progress! Alaska Airlines did an amazing job looking for (and finding!) Wenty!! And Byrdie the Rhodesian Ridgeback was retrieved from the runway at La Guardia before tragedy struck!!
And yet, I still think about Jack – and what he went through during the last 73 days of his life – every day. And I also think about the dogs that have escaped from their crates and have run out into the world, scared out of their wits, looking for their families, unsafe and – far too often – unlucky. Vivi. Nahla. Tosha (who was a lucky one).
But all those animals give us a focal point. If our quest is successful – if we keep the animals SAFE – there will be no more focal points. No more drama, no more “poster kids” like Jack, like Wenty, like Nahla, like Tosha.
GOOD. I hope, with everything in my body and soul, that we never have to report on another lost dog or cat at an airport ever again.
Unfortunately, without these “poster kids,” it’s hard to make that dream a reality. It’s hard to convince people to put themselves out there to PREVENT another sad story.
If I ask you to give $10, or $25, or $100 dollars to help keep a sweet kitty or puppy with big eyes and huge ears alive, it’s a pretty easy call.
But if I ask you to donate the same amount to help us print posters that will go in every vet’s office in the U.S., to help pay the fee for a table at a veterinary conference so that we can spread the word about the dangers of air travel to the people who certify that a dog or cat is healthy enough to fly, or to cover expenses for a trip to Washington to really talk to people that can help us create a safer system, weeeeeeeellllllll…
Those things just aren’t CUTE. And there will be no story with a happy ending. Because – if this works – there will be no more stories at all.
I am absolutely 100% certain that if all of us don’t think at least a little bit ahead… if we don’t make air travel for animals safe… if we don’t take a stand and say IT IS NOT ALRIGHT TO TREAT ANIMALS LIKE LUGGAGE, what happened to Jack will happen over and over and over again. And there will be more pretty kitties and darling doggies who will be lost, injured and killed as a result of air travel. We’ll look at their pictures and we’ll worry or we’ll cry — but ultimately, these fur-kids will be the ones who pay for our unwillingness to think ahead, to think beyond the story of the cute animal in front of us right now.
When we began Where Is Jack? Inc. (“we” are a core group of determined and concerned volunteers, who all met online as a result of Jack’s plight), we drew up a preliminary budget. We need about $50,000 to do just the basics of what we’re hoping to do in the next year…
- to go to national and regional veterinary conferences, to talk to vets about the realities of air travel for pets in checked baggage or cargo – since they are the ones who must certify that a dog or cat is healthy enough to fly;
- to print and distribute posters and information cards in the 50,000 veterinary practices in the U.S.; and
- to get to DC to work with people who are willing and able to help us make sure what happened to Jack NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.
But WE NEED YOUR HELP to make this happen. To those of you who have become a member of Where Is Jack? Inc. already, we thank you. Please ask all your animal-loving friends to join you in supporting this work!! And if you haven’t yet become a member…
Remember that ultimately, he couldn’t survive his ordeal, and that he is now watching us from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
It won’t make what Jack went through”worth it,” but at least it won’t make his death another utterly pointless tragedy in the history of animals on planes.