Air travel for dogs has long been a hotly debated topic among pet owners. While some swear they would never ship their beloved pets like cargo, others counter that it sometimes simply cannot be avoided.
Airlines cater to animal-friendly travel with special programs, ranging from JetBlue’s JetPaws to United Airlines’ PetSafe. In October, the Department of Transportation ruled airports that service more than 10,000 passengers annually must install one animal relief area in each terminal after security, and New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport is opening a “Pet Oasis” in the ARK, a $65-million “terminal for animals.”
But even with modern advances, accidents do happen. They’re very rare, with 23 deaths, 20 injuries, and zero losses reported in the U.S. from January to October 2016 (the last month for which data is available), according to the Department of Transportation. That’s a small number of the estimated 2 million pets that travel on commercial flights each year. But as any animal lover knows, it only takes one tragic incident to turn a family upside down.