In any given year, about 40 million Americans move – as the Brits say, they “change houses.” (And “moving” is the #1 reason people give for why they are surrendering their pets to a shelter!)
The vast majority of people move within the same county (67%, or about 30 million people each year). These are generally moves of 50 miles or less. They rarely – if ever – involve plane travel. (Not that people always travel safely in their cars with their pets, but that’s a topic for another time!)
Another 10 million people move much farther distances – either within their state (in large states like California, Texas and Alaska, this can be almost a thousand miles!!), or between states.
In 2011, Karen Pascoe was one of those people. She moved from New York to California with her cats, Jack and Barry. And as everyone who follows this blog knows, the results were disastrous.
Karen’s move involved her flying from New York City to the Bay Area of California. Karen flew, and because Jack and Barry were large cats who wouldn’t fit under the seat – and because there were 2 of them – she flew them as “checked baggage.” Jack never even made it onto the plane due to the airline’s neglect – he became lost in JFK Airport. 61 days later he fell through the ceiling in the Customs & Border Patrol Office at JFK, and lived for 12 more days before the effects of malnutrition and the wounds from his fall became too much for him, and he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
And so our movement was born. We work to make sure what happened to Jack won’t happen again.
Of course, since then, we’ve heard many more tales of airline incompetence and neglect – some (like the recent case of Crystal Box and Boo-Boo) involved moving, though many did not. But now we know more — and we know that whether one is traveling with a pet because of a move or just for a vacation, our pets are definitely at risk when they fly.
So much has happened in the last 2 years — Karen adopted Milly shortly before Jack was found (Barry was so lonely after 2 months without his best buddy). Milly loved Barry so much!! But Barry was an older guy – and his health began to fail. Heartbreak – he too crossed the Bridge, reunited with his buddy Jack. But Milly was not designed to be an only child, so Karen adopted Essex. And now Milly and Essex live together in a state of mushy, sappy, sweet loving kindness!!
And Karen has been a rock star for the company that brought her to Cali. And now, that company is moving her back to the East Coast! Not back to NYC, but to New England.
THINK SHE’S FLYING???
Well, YES. Yes, she is flying.
But there’s a difference this time – UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL MILLY AND ESSEX LEAVE HER SIDE.
And not just her side, but my side as well.
Milly and Essex will be flying under the seats (as “carry-on luggage”) – but because each person is only allowed one “carry-on” bag, and because each bag can only contain one kitty, there needs to be two of us.
And so I will fly to Cali, then to Boston with Karen and the kitties, then back home. Because this is what it’s going to take to get Milly and Essex to their new home safely.
Karen’s already done excellent prep work: she immediately went to the DryFur website – which carries ONLY the highest quality pet travel equipment!! (And no – we don’t get anything for saying that. But we want you to know that reputable retailers who care about pets really do exist!!)
Karen purchased the TSA Fast Pass Leash & Collar so Milly & Essex can get through TSA screening safely (though of course each of us will also be requiring private screening). She also bought the Airline Soft Carriers and has been letting the kitties get used to them – they will travel safely and as comfortably as possible!!
Bottom line: moving with pets can be done, and it can be done SAFELY. A little preparation, careful thought, time & energy can make it happen. We know this!!
We want to share our experience with you – check into our Facebook page on Sunday and Monday (August 11 & 12). We’ll chronicle the journey and let you know if there are any glitches!!
Karen and TEN MILLION other people will do a long distance move this year. About 3.5 million of those will move with at least one pet.
Karen, Milly and Essex have this under control!!
And Where is Jack? Inc. is here to help the 3,499,999 others!!
(If you’re moving with pets and you need advice that you can’t find on this website, please call Mary Beth at 305-582-5884… we’ll help in any way we can!)
August 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm
Wow…. wishing nothing but the best for Karen and her Paw Pets!! How exciting …. I look forward to following their path and thank you Mary Beth for always sharing….
August 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm
Thank you so much, Mary Beth, for keeping those of us who followed Jack’s story and prayed diligently for his safe return up to date on Karen and her new furbabies. Thank you also for keeping Jack’s memory alive by doing everything in your power to make air travel safer for all animals. Last, but certainly not least, thank you for flying along with Karen as she makes her way back to the east coast, helping to make sure that this move is as safe and comfortable for her new pets as is possible. You are most definitely a living patron saint of animals!
August 7, 2013 at 9:40 pm
Also check out Underground Railroad Rescued Kitty Network on Facebook. They transport cats and seem to handle both rescues and moves. The group is growing and has some fairly strict guidelines for transporting kitties.
August 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm
Thank you for keeping us informed and for providing a resource for people who have to move with their cats. Best to all of you.
August 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm
Good job! Karen on the job, and Mary beth you are a sooo awesome i would hug you if i could, i think of jack alot when i look at mine and travel, and i wear my jack shirt. safe travels.
August 8, 2013 at 2:28 am
Because of Jack’s story, I drove my car and belongings from CA to NY…then flew back and forth twice, once with each cat I was moving… You know, it’s scary enough for them being on an airplane with all the loud noises they arent use to. If your pet is small
enough, do fly with them. PS SOUTHWEST I know the measurements are much larger under the MIDDLE SEAT… there was room
for my carrier and my purse…I used a soft carrier…could have fit a 20 lbs cat in there I swear! Now it did cost a bit more but was worth it for my piece of mind.
August 8, 2013 at 3:02 am
PS I BOUGHT MY SOFT CARRIER FROM WALMART FOR 25$ yrs ago…it has held up well.
Airlines rip you off… Also, when they take your pet out of the carrier to screen the carrier, you havet
the right to be a private room with your animal while they do the screening. One of my cats is
a bit feral and doesn’t care to be around people!
August 8, 2013 at 5:32 am
I was thinking of Jack the other day with love and wearing his tee-shirt. I am sorry to hear about Barry, but know that he and Jack are together. I am happy that Karen has her two buddies and that you both will ensure they will travel safely to their new home. Thank you for everything that you have done to make travelling safer for all of our pets. Safe travels!
August 10, 2013 at 2:26 am
Karen called with the news today. I am sorry she’s leaving the area, but it sounds like a great opportunity. And what an awesome way to go–with both kitties and her best friend at her side! Safe travels, MB!!!!
August 12, 2013 at 4:35 am
I am so glad Karen has both Milly and now Essex to share her life! I feel like I knew Jack and Barry – just so very sad when Jack was lost and then “found himself” after such a long time! I still wear my Jack t-shirt frequently and get questions and comments on it!! Will pray for Karen, Milly and Essex to have a safe flight back East. But know they will this time, so glad she is keeping them in cabin with her!!! Bless you Karen and your sweet kitties. And we will never ever forget Jack and always thank him for bringing the huge problem of pet travel into the spotlight and for the positive changes that are occurring.
August 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm
I received a great tip from a friend who traveled with a very shy scared kitty. She used a small baby blanket or towel to put over the kitties face/eyes when she took her out of her bag and went through TSA screening. She had the kitty harness on and had the kitty in her arms. But from my years of experience dealing with kitties I know they feel so safe in a dark hiding place like inside the soft carrier. If you cover them slightly and include their head and eyes they think if they can’t see anything they are still hidden and they will not be in such a panic trying to get back into the bag. Or worst trying to get out of your arms and run looking for a hiding place. We all have experienced taking a cat to the vet the minute you pry them out of the carrier they want back in to the carrier even though they usually hate the carrier the carrier is giving them a sense of comfort they receive from feeling they are hidden which equals safe in their minds. So replace that feeling with a small cover over them while you carry them through the metal detectors then right back into the carrier bag.. Hope this helps and I hope TSA agents allow this procedure it can really help.
August 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm
Hi Marybeth and Karen! It’s been a year since our lunch at Lenny’s and I see life is changing again for you (Karen). I am so heartened to read your posts about your new flight plans and wish you nothing but the best in your new home. I still gaze at Jack’s picture and love him, and still have little Jackie, our boxed cat from JFK. She is doing well now, but is–and always will be–a little different because of what she endured as a kitten (the box was probably just the culminating act of a life of abuse).
Love to you both, and best of everything.
August 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm
Thank you for providing all the steps you took with the kitties when you flew – it’ll help me if I am ever to move and need to fly to get there. I had decided that if I were to ever move no matter what I would drive, even if it took 3 days! I still may drive but there may be a circumstance where flying is necessary and it’s really good to know all the steps to take.
I am so glad everyone is safe and the traveling went well.
August 25, 2013 at 8:34 pm
Thank you so much for your safe flying checklist. I am emigrating so will be bringing my dogs on the plane. I really like your suggestions about asking questions, speaking up and being polite but assertive – it will give me courage to protect my best friends when they fly. Thank you!