April 11 is National Pet Day, and now that spring has finally sprung in New York City, John F. Kennedy Airport is gearing up for a busy travel season. JFK is at the forefront of animal air travel with its ARK Pet Oasis, a state-of-the-art facility that provides 14.4 acres of airside and curbside boarding, kenneling, quarantine, veterinary care, training, grooming, a pet spa and in-transit companion animal services within Cargo Building 78.
Elizabeth A. Schuette is managing director of The ARK at JFK, and she and the Pet Oasis staff gave advice to PEOPLE to help ease the potential stresses of travel for pet owners and their animals alike.
“There are three ways for pets to travel by air. The first is in-cabin with the passenger as carry-on with a weight limit of approximately 18 pounds. The second way to travel is to check your pet as ‘excess baggage,’ whereby he/she is in a travel crate and placed in a pressurized cabin with checked luggage. Lastly, your animal can be categorized as ‘live animal cargo’ – also known as ‘AVI’ which is the official industry term,” says Schuette.
“For animals that are not traveling in-cabin, The ARK strongly recommends that all pet owners book their animals as live cargo, instead of excess baggage, in order to increase general animal welfare and reduce potential disease transmission. When animals travel as excess baggage, there is a risk that untrained AVI personnel may handle your pet and that Fido may not be properly identified, potentially being seen — or assumed — as a simple piece of luggage. When animals travel as live cargo, the carrier is required to employ trained AVI staff to handle your animal and track or trace your pet with official documentation while in transit.”
Whether you’re flying with a dog, a cat or even a horse, here are 10 tips to ensure the safest trip for your beloved four-legged family members.
1. All animals must obtain a health certificate within 10 days of traveling, so keep an extra copy of your pet’s veterinary documents.
2. Microchip and register your pet with all important information on a tag attached to the collar.
3. Bring an extra collar and leash.
4. Pack a first-aid kit for your pet.
5. Research pet-friendly hotels before making travel plans.
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6. Use direct flights if possible and travel during non-peak hours.
7. Keep a current photo of your pet in case he/she gets lost.
8. Always keep calm around your pet, so he/she does not sense your stress or anxiety.
9. Use a pheromone collar or spray to de-stress and calm your pet.
10. Pack all of your pet’s medication needed for the trip duration.
For more information about pet air travel, visit The ARK at JFK online or call 212-973-8275 or email info@ARKJFK.com.