Where is Jack?

Making Air Travel Safe for Pets

PREVENTION – It’s Just Not *Cute*…

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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.

But instead, I’ve learned sooooooo much…

  • 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 the 61 days Jack was in the ceiling, hungry and alone.  Remember the 12 days he was in veterinary ICU, with that tube in his nose.

Remember that ultimately, he couldn’t survive his ordeal, and that he is now watching us from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Help us print the posters, go to the conferences, and change the laws so that his suffering will never, ever happen again.

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.

6 thoughts on “PREVENTION – It’s Just Not *Cute*…

  1. We are all here with you, Mary Beth, and (of course) with Karen too! I made a promise to Jack and I am keeping it! Beautifully written, but a sad reminder that we ALL have work to do to make sure this never happens again. There is good news: We ARE making a difference by supporting this organization and by keeping Jack’s story alive. His sweet little nose twitches from across the Bridge every time someone does something to change the world for our furry loved ones. Our successes may not be loud or obvious (yet?), but we are influencing and setting the example. Our successes will be one step at a time, but I cannot think of a better group of people to be sharing these steps with! Love, peace and light!

  2. I stand behind you 100% and am always looking for ways to get that message out, but I must tell you, each reading I am able to read from you, MB, makes me more aware and stronger. Your writings and warnings to reach our consciousness is very heartfelt. I think of Jack the Cat every single day and in some little way, I think of you and Karen and Barry and what each of you have had to go through and still do. I will forever be a member of Where Is Jack, Inc. and thank you for sending out awareness FoJ. ~peace~

  3. I was weeping while reading this most recent message. I think of dear Jack, you, Karen and Barry often. I support this cause 100% and an a member of Where is Jack, Inc. This must proceed one step at a time! Jack’s story must be told at every opportunity and be kept out in front to keep people aware. Bless you, Mary Beth!

  4. Behind you all the way Mary Beth, whatever it takes to get things changed and keep pets safe. Jack will never be forgotten

  5. Very good post Mary Beth – brought me to tears over Jack all over again. I hope this takes off and goes all over the country – I will be glad to help any way that I can in the Tampa area if you need me. I happily and proudly donated and would do anything I could to make sure this never ever happens to another beautiful sweet cat (or dog).

  6. Your dedication to this cause is so inspiring, Mary Beth. So many of these tragedies happen right here near me so I am doubly aware & always hoping I won’t hear of another mishap. Hopefully things will improve as more work is done.

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