Delta Airlines kills another pet: kitten dies of cold in cargo hold

delta petAfter a pet death earlier this month, you’d expect Delta Airlines to inspect and improve its protocols for transporting animals.

Sadly, another pet has died after a flight on one of their jets – Snickers the (hairless) kitten was just eleven weeks old when she made the trip from Utah to Connecticut.

Her owner, Heather Lombardi paid just under $290 for the pet ticket, which included a $50 surcharge to have Snickers removed from the hold immediately upon landing.

Unfortunately, someone screwed up, as Snickers was left in the hold for 50 minutes in 10 degree weather. When she was reunited with her owner, she could not move her head or paws, and was rushed to a vet wrapped in a coat. Upon arrival at the vet, she had passed away. Because of the cold, Snickers was bleeding from the mouth and nose, a symptom of hypothermia.

A Delta Airlines spokeswoman had the following to say:

“We are turning our attention now to offering our condolences and discussing how we can provide some kind of restitution to support her during this time”

Sadly this is just another tragic incident that shows the need for better regulation of pet transport. The US Department of Transportation does track animal deaths, but only of pets that die in transit in the cabin. No numbers are recorded for deaths of pets in the cargo hold.

Click here to learn all about “a day in the life of a pet in airline cargo” from our friends at AOL Travel

[Photo: AP/Heather Lombardini]

Disney World unveils luxury pet resort

Forget the dog house – soon you’ll find Pluto and his friends living the luxe life at the new Best Friends Pet Resort, a Disney World hotel designed exclusively for pets.

Reports show the resort boasts 50,000 square feet of space (almost half of which is outdoors) and can lodge 270 dogs, 30 cats and various other animals including birds, pigs (yes, pigs) and hamsters. Sorry, no turtles, snakes or lizards allowed.

The room rate starts at $39 for dogs, but that’s just for the basics. If your pet is used to living in style, the Disney Best Friends Pet Resort won’t disappoint. You can upgrade your pets’ stay with playgroups, movie time, private play areas and reading groups (that’s right, reading groups). For the ultimate pet pampering, splurge and reserve the 226-square foot suite with private outdoor play areas.

Best Friends Pet Resort will replace the five kennels existing around the Disney area and plans to open on Aug. 27, according to the Associated Press.

Guaranteed on Board program gives pet owners peace of mind

Passengers flying with their pets have always had a rough time navigating the tricky rules surrounding pet carriers. And many have been frustrated to find that carriers that they thought were approved for travel in the plane’s cabin were deemed unsuitable by gate agents. When that happens, many pet owners find themselves out of luck – unable to board the plane, but not eligible for a refund on the flight.

To help, the Sherpa pet carrier company has teamed up with eight pet-friendly airlines to offer the “Guaranteed on Board” program, a sort of insurance policy for those traveling with their pets. The GOB website details the sizes and types of carriers allowed on each airline. Passengers who purchase an approved carrier can go online to register it (after making arrangements to bring the pet on board directly with the airline they are flying) print out the Guaranteed on Board certificate and bring it with them to the airport. If they are then refused boarding by an airline official due to the carrier, the program will reimburse them for the cost of the missed flight.

Airlines participating in the program include American, Midwest AirTran, Continental, Northwest, Delta, Southwest, and Alaska. American and Delta have even designed their own bags, which they sell on the Sherpa website. If your pet can’t fly on its own airline, at least you can have some assurance that your carrier will be up to spec, or you’ll get your money back for being bumped off a flight.

Pet hotels for the truly insane true pet lovers

The Dog HouseHotel month wouldn’t be complete without a rundown of animal houses — you get a vacation, so why shouldn’t your pet?

The photo above is a pet hotel in Michigan called The Dog House – The Ultimate Dog Retreat at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. The guest dogs enjoy filtered water, walks with the professionally trained staff, a cage-free environment, and private, outdoor play areas. It’s a great way to not have to worry about your pets on your vacation — just bring them with you and let them get pampered, too! The Muse Hotel in NYC is another pet-friendly institution, complete with bones and a pretty doggie bowl.

How do you get your pets to these pet-friendly hotels? Well, some airlines will allow you to bring your dog with you in the cabin, and there’s also Pet Airways, which will fly your pooch for $150 – $300 without you (warning: they don’t go to Michigan yet).

Do you think we can get some pets to join The Laviators Club?

Anyway, you can find a lot of pet-friendly hotels on the net (start here), but for the pet who truly deserves the best? Take them to France. Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière is an unmatched destination for spoiling your shmoopie. Not only is it Paris’ newest five star luxury hotel, but here’s what your pets will get:

  • Deluxe plush pet bed in-room upon arrival
  • Special baskets, bowls and dishes
  • Mats embroidered with pet’s name, placed next to owner’s bed (I mean, seriously??)
  • Vittel water upon arrival
  • Meals (available via room service) of gourmet fish, chicken or beef accompanied by wild rice, steamed vegetables or homemade pasta
  • Selection of special toys

… and all for free. If I happen to go to that hotel? I’m gonna tell them I have a pet. And that it’s named after me. So that I can have a mat with my name embroidered on it and some special toys.

Forget boarding your “baby” next time you need to get away; send them on a vacation of their own.

Flying pets: Getting them safely from point A to point B

My pug Iris (pictured here inside her airline travel bag) is what I believe to be one of the most well-traveled pugs in the universe. She is just seven years old and has been on at least twenty flights with me — most of them from one coast to the other.

A friend once asked me how much it costs to have a pet fly with you (or under you) on the plane and when I informed her that it cost at least $50 a “leg,” she actually thought I meant it cost $200 because my dog has four legs and asked me if I considered cutting off a leg or two to make her flight cheaper.

Nowadays, it can cost upwards of $300 for a pet to fly with you on the plane. It’s a sad state of affairs for airlines these days, and flying pets are the first to pay the price.Cassandra, a Gadling reader, inquired this week about how safe it is to fly your pet: “With all the news the media reports about animals deaths from flying because of heat/cold. Where exactly are they stored and is the pilot informed they are flying animals? And why can’t the airline industries build a section on the plane in the back near the bathroom for them rather than put them below? You’d think animals would feel more secure being near their owners rather than the loud noises of the belly.”

I have heard countless stories about pets dying of hypothermia or overheating on planes, or nightmarish tales of lost or stolen pets on planes, so there are, unfortunately, plenty of reasons to be worried about the safety of your pet in transit. Kent Wien, Gadling’s pilot and plane expert, wants you all to be assured that the conditions of the cargo area on planes are altered to accommodate for pets: “On the 767, the temperature in our ‘bulk cargo compartment’ is 65 degrees if we know there are animals below — 45 degrees if we don’t have animals. Most other Boeings are warm enough to support small chicks (birds) so I imagine they’re in the 55 to 65 degree range, but I haven’t seen the actual numbers on that.”

As for the location of the cargo and reason why pets are not allowed in the back of the plane near the bathroom, I imagine it has a lot to do with people having allergies to pet dander. Clearly, some pets do not like the small, dark, and cold confines of the plane’s cargo area (yes, it is the plane’s loud belly), but it is a highly controlled area of the plane.

It is also worth noting that, while some airlines allow small pets (they must be able to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you and weigh roughly under 30 pounds) on the plane, other airlines restrict even small pets to the cargo area. You should always check with your particular airline to know whether to bring the carry-on pet bag or the airline-approved cargo kennel with you.

In addition, if you carry your pet onto the plane and squeeze the carrier under the seat in front of you, it’s always a good idea to reserve a middle seat rather than one by the window or aisle. The middle seat has more room for the bag, and therefore more room for your pet. Federal regulations require that your pet remain inside its carrier for the entire flight. Sorry, you can’t hide it under your blanket (although I’ve tried to do this both successfully and unsuccessfully before).

If you have a layover, it would be wise to take your dog out for a potty break. You will have to exit and re-enter through the TSA and security, but your pup will be forever grateful. Nearly every airport has a little plot of green somewhere near the baggage claim outside to let your dog do its business and stretch its legs.

Although I suffer from snub-nosed pet owner flying anxiety, I have yet to have a really sour experience flying with my beloved Iris. I have yet to have the fear of flying prevent Iris and I from getting where we need to go. If you are in doubt, though, there’s always road tripping it, like she and I did from Florida to California this past January!