Where is Jack?

Making Air Travel Safe for Pets


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YOU Are the Army!

This is the conclusion of a 4-part series.  Click on Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Jack’s legacy has always been NEVER AGAIN. Anyone who was touched by Jack’s story wants to make sure that pets are never lost, injured or killed while in the care of the airlines. Making that promise come true means that we need to get the message out there – no matter what the airlines say, your pet IS NOT SAFE in their care.

The airlines – and even some people — will dispute this. “Thousands of dogs and cats fly every year. There are only a few problems. Accidents happen.” Fair enough – accidents do happen.

But imagine this: You come home from an evening out and one of your children is missing. The babysitter says “I forgot to check to make sure his windows were locked.  It was an accident.  I’m sure he’ll come back when he’s hungry. Just give him a few days. Oh – and I won’t charge you for this evening. Have a lovely night.”

I highly doubt any parent would tolerate this behavior – much less think the babysitter was acting in an acceptable manner.

How about this: fyou leave your child with a babysitter, and the child drowns while getting his or her bath.  Unless the babysitter is a psychopath, it was probably an accident. Is that ok? Would you leave your other children with that babysitter? Probably not. Should your friends leave their children with that babysitter? Again – most parents would probably say that sitter is not trustworthy.

And what if, upon your return home to find your child dead, the babysitter said “I watch thousands of children every year and this hardly ever happens. Sorry about that. You don’t have to pay for my services this evening.” Would you feel any better then?

Yet, this is what happens to dogs and cats – our fur children – with frightening regularity when they are left in the “care” of the airlines.

As far as Where Is Jack? Inc. is concerned — this means YOUR DOG OR CAT IS NOT SAFE IN THE CARE OF THE AIRLINES.  Period.

We need to get this message out to our three target groups: people who enter their dogs in dog shows; people who enter their cats in cat shows; and people who are moving.

There are two fundamental ways WIJ would like to focus on getting this message out:

  • Social media
  • Personal interaction

SOCIAL MEDIA

We need to increase our social media presence. When we started in 2011, Facebook was on the rise, and we had great success getting our message out just using Facebook. (We tweeted a bit, but that never really took hold.)  YouTube was still a fairly small presence – and we had no video experience anyway. Podcasting, Pinterest and Instagram were literally in their infancy.Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 3.57.48 PM

If Jack was lost today, it would be almost impossible to get the visibility our Facebook page was able to get in 2011 – unless we pumped some serious cash into it. Social media is always changing and we need to expand our presence across the channels.

I would love to hear from some FoJs who would like to help us to create additional outlets for Where Is Jack? Inc. to promote our message, and to educate people about how to fly safely with a pet. Can I hear from some FoJs who would be interested in creating or consulting with us about:

  • Pinterest boards and pins (I’ve already started an account but have nothing on the boards)
  • Instagram presence
  • Twitter presence
  • Podcast presence – either a dedicated pet air travel safety podcast or getting the message out on other people’s podcasts
  • YouTube – the one video I put up 2+ years ago with no promotion has about 400 views; it would be great to get more videos up and to promote this
  • Other social media platforms: Vine, Snapchat, Beme… are there other platforms we should be tuned into?

The good news is this is all do-able. The even better news – there is something everyone who cares can do right now… every day!!

PERSONAL INTERACTION

I talk about air travel safety for animals EVERY SINGLE DAY. I talk about it with veterinarians; with people walking their dog; with friends who are about to go on vacation (I don’t care that they aren’t taking their cat with them – I want them to know there are probably animals underneath them on the plane). I talk about air travel safety for animals with my barista at Starbucks, and sometimes with the waitstaff when I go out to dinner. I talk about air travel safety for animals with anyone who will listen.

And almost everyone says “I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS A PROBLEM.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 3.54.42 PMIf Jack’s legacy is going to become a reality, it is going to take an army – the army that came into existence after Jack went missing. That army is you: the Friends of Jack (FoJs). Jack needs you to keep your energy behind this issue. You can talk to anyone and it could make a difference in a dog or cat’s life! Talk to your friends, your family, your vet, your co-workers, your neighbors, your grocery store clerks, your gas station attendant… anyone and everyone you meet! Can you take a moment and talk about Jack and about air travel safety for animals today??

Can you do that every day?

Or at least a couple times every week?

If one fluffy orange-y cat could make this much of a difference, imagine what you could do.IMG_1029

Will you… PLEASE?

Thank you in advance.  Thanks to all the FoJs… whether you’ve been around since the beginning or you just joined us.  You matter.  More than you’ll ever know.

Let’s get out there and DO THIS!!!!!!!

 

 

 


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The End of the Temper Tantrum

This is the 2nd in a 4-part series. Catch up on the back story… Read Part 1.

So I wallowed a bit. More than a bit – a lot bit. For months I wallowed… wondering why bother?

And yet stuff was happening. Little stuff.

I saw things on the web and thought… I should post that on the Jack page. But I didn’t.

I heard about incidents out in the world and thought… I should blog about that. But I didn’t.

And then I went to this event and I heard about the incredible sense of despair people feel when they’re not doing what they know they should be doing with their short, precious life.

And I knew that was what I was feeling.

It wasn’t the despair of being unable to do anything. It was the despair of being unwilling to do what I knew I could do.

I had been having a temper tantrum. And it had to stop!!

So the airlines wouldn’t play nice – was I really that surprised? That was no reason to stop doing what I knew I could do. More importantly, it was no reason to stop DOING WHAT I KNEW I HAD TO DO.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 3.21.47 PMI had known since the beginning that educating pet parents was going to be an important part of our mission. And yet, in a certain way, it seemed so INEFFICIENT. After all, there were hundreds of thousands of pets flying by plane every year – and really only a handful of airlines (primarily just THREE) doing the flying. It just seemed like it would be so much easier if we could just get the airlines to do their job properly.

REALLY??

Is it efficient – or EASY – to try to work with people who simply don’t want to hear what you have to say??

DING DING DING – bells were going off. And for the first time in a quite a while, I felt the spark.

I knew what had to be done.  First and foremost – we had to educate pet parents about the dangers of flying with animals. And if that was all we did, so be it.

Karen never would have let Jack and Barry go under the plane if she had known the danger they were in.  We had talked about it, and I had some vague idea of the problem, but I didn’t know enough to talk her out of it.  After all, AA swore up and down the kitties would be safe.  They transported tens of thousands of animals every year with no problem, right?

Yeah sure.  Tell that to the kitty who was in the ceiling at JFK for 61 days.  Tell that to Karen.  Tell that to the thousands of people who followed Jack’s story.

Educating pet parents is the best chance we have to fulfill Jack’s legacy.

I knew we had had some success at this already – people had contacted me by phone, through this blog and through our Facebook page to ask questions, to use the materials we had available, and to tell us that what were we doing either helped them keep their pet safe when they flew – or in many cases, to tell me that they had decided to forego flying all together.

(Side note: To all those kitties that have had to endure cross-country drives because your mommies and daddies were afraid to fly with you – I’m sorry. But not really!)

The key was EDUCATION. And we needed to be doing A LOT MORE OF IT.

And to make that happen, we needed a plan.

 

 

 


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Delta: Using a Loophole to Make Pets Even More Unsafe

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 12.46.03 PMDelta Airlines announced this past week that they will no longer accept pets as checked baggage.  All of us who care about the safety of pets on planes should be jumping for joy, right?  This is going to keep animals out of the area below the plane and make them much safer, right?

WRONG.

By banning pets from traveling as “checked baggage,” Delta has done two things:

  1. Made it impossible for pet parents to travel on the same flight with their pet if that pet cannot be transported in the plane with them.
  2. Excused itself from having to report deaths/injuries/losses of pets.  Animals traveling on designated CARGO flights do not have to be reported to the Department of Transportation each month.  Delta will now have virtually NO PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY regarding its treatment of pets.

This is heartbreaking.  After waiting over two years for the new DoT rules that required airlines to more fully report animal incidents to be implemented, Delta has now found a way to get around the “problem” of more honestly accounting for their treatment of animals.

The three major carriers (Delta, United and American Airlines) have all made it crystal clear that they do not actually care about the animals they transport – they just want to make sure they aren’t harassed about the losses, injuries and deaths, which they consider a “minor” problem.

Of course, this may change quickly if it is expedient.  As the article and Delta’s own website mention, they do not allow snub-nosed and “bully breeds” to travel on passenger flights.  Yet Delta itself reported incidents involving not one but TWO American Bulldogs just during the month of September of this year (see lines 492 and 494).  Delta doesn’t seem to follow its own policies, so who knows what could actually happen.

While Where Is Jack? Inc. continues to advocate for change in both government regulations and airline industry standards, the best way to keep animals safe today is education:  please share this post, and spread the word to anyone you know who is considering flying with a pet who cannot be accommodated in the plane: DON’T LET YOUR PET FLY WITHOUT YOUR DIRECT SUPERVISION. Ever.  Not as checked baggage.  Not as cargo.  Not under any circumstances, ever.

If you or someone you know is facing a situation (like a move) where it seems that it will be impossible to get from Point A to Point B without putting your pet in the hands of the airlines, please contact us here at Where Is Jack? Inc.  CEO/Founder Mary Beth Melchior, Ph.D. is available to brainstorm ideas, and our team wants to help anyway we can.  Contact us via phone at 305-582-5884 or email at MaryBeth@whereisjack.org.

Spread the word, Friends.  We can’t let what happened to Jack keep happening.  Let’s keep our pets out of the airlines hands!!


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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