Where is Jack?

Making Air Travel Safe for Pets


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On The Move… and Doing It RIGHT!!

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.

Essex is the white fur ball, Milly is the grey-bie...

Essex is the white fur ball, Milly is the grey-bie…

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.

IMG_4580

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!)IMG_4578


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Pet Air Incidents Through June 2013

As I reported two months ago, the DoT Air Incident Reports often fail to list one or more pet incidents that happened in any given month.  The case of Victor, Lacy Horner’s dog that was lost by Hawaiian Air (and recovered  – safely! – after a month), was finally added to the report during the next month.  This only happened because we sent information from Ms. Horner AND several news stories to our contact at the DoT.  Similarly another incident was also missing last month and was added to this latest report.

We wish the airlines would take their responsibilities more seriously and do the MINIMAL amount of reporting they have been mandated to do in a timely manner.

We also wish the government was willing to administer stringent penalties for failure to report.  Maybe the airlines would take this more seriously if there was a price to pay for failing to do so.

Our work goes on and on, unfortunately…

The latest version of Where Is Jack? Inc.’s complete inventory of Pet Air Incidents is available  at this link: petairincinvthru0613.xlsx


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Avoid the Perils of TSA Screening (with video!)

As those of you who have been following this blog for a while know, traveling with a pet is difficult – and dealing with the airlines is not the only challenge. The case of Xiaowha highlighted how tragedy can happen as a result of the security screening process for pets who are traveling internationally. And my own experience with flying Maggie the cat to Bozeman, Montana (see Facebook posts from January 2013 for more about our journey) taught me that asking for what you need using TSA’s language (e.g., PRIVATE SCREENING) is critical to keeping your furry baby safe when you travel.

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Kitten and transporter doing TSA check-in at DFW, 7/7/13.

But what if TSA isn’t following their own procedures?

On July 7, 2013, a shelter cat (8-week-old kitten, actually) from Arlington, TX was being transported from Dallas-Fort Worth airport to Seattle-Tacoma airport via Alaska Airlines. The transporter was someone who had answered a CraigsList ad looking for help with a transport. She was not an experienced handler. An experienced and travel-savvy volunteer from the shelter (FoJ Debbie Daugherty McClendon) accompanied the transporter in their dealings with Alaska Airlines and to the TSA screening line. Ms. McClendon requested that the transporter and kitten be placed in a private screening room, but she was told that no such thing existed at that location. They asked another agent and were then told the same thing. At that point, the transporter became uncomfortable with pressing on the TSA officers for private screening, took the kitten out of the bag, and carried her through screening while the bag went through the conveyor belt x-ray machine. LUCKILY, nothing happened. Kitten was returned to its carrier, and kitten and transporter made it to Sea-Tac and to the kitten’s new family and home without any problem.

The WIJ team was HORRIFIED by this whole incident. The TSA website clearly states that “passengers can request private screening at any time” – implying that private screening is always available!! Where, then, were the private screening facilities at this terminal in DFW – a huge and busy airport??

It took a little time, but the TSA did finally give us some information. Their response:

“At the E15/16 checkpoints, we do not have the facilities of a “private room”
however, the private screening is completed away from the checkpoint in
another facility that is semi private. If you fly regularly with this
airline you might want to go through the E8 checkpoint where we do have
a “private room” in the checkpoint.”

So, it seems, there is more code to know.  The bottom line is, though, that at particular gates in particular airports it may not always be possible for TSA to do a private screening that will allow us to fly safely with animals — and particularly with a cat or kitten.

In response to this information, we’ve made a little video to explain a procedure that provides a some insurance in case you and your cat or kitten ever find yourself in the predicament that Debbie Daugherty McClendon and that transporter found themselves in. You don’t want to have to rely on luck – especially if your kitty is more than a few weeks old!!

(And if you’re interested, the cat harness pictured in the video is available from our friend Lisa at DryFur.tv – tell her Jack sent you!!)