The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has released a statement in response to recent changes made by United Airlines to its PetSafe animal transportation program.
United Airlines has recently made substantial changes to its animal transportation policy to the severe detriment of the pet trade. While their initial change banned the transport of virtually anything except a dog or a cat, they have now published an updated policy which allows for the transport of live fish (including tropical fish), mice and other rodents for laboratory purposes, amphibians, insects (including bees), day-old poultry and hatching eggs, and live animals shipped as food for consumption (including crustaceans and shellfish).
While this may appear to be a reprieve for some segments of the pet industry, others remain deeply affected. United Cargo will not accept shipments of birds (except day-old poultry and hatching eggs), snakes and other reptiles, rabbits, sugar gliders, zoo animals, or other warm-blooded animals (except as listed under “will accept” above). More frustrating, this decision appears to have been reached after sole consultation with an animal welfare organization lacking specific expertise on air transportation and holding restrictive views of what constitutes an “appropriate” companion animal.
We at the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) have expressed our deep concern over the recent changes that United Airlines has made concerning its animal transportation policy. The lists of allowed and forbidden animals appear to lack any basis in science, animal welfare, cargo handler welfare, or even passenger welfare. Instead, it appears to be based entirely on the perceived mainstream acceptance of the transported animal as a family pet. As an organization with many members that handle, care for and work with these animals daily, we believe that United Airlines is grossly underestimating the popularity of many of these animals and we fail to understand the rationale for banning them.
It is critical that the entirety of the pet trade weigh in on this decision. Even if your segment of the industry can continue to ship on United, such policies are often adopted by other airlines who make their own changes to them and you could very well be next. We at PIJAC strongly urge all parties in the pet trade to contact United Airlines and inform them that you disagree with their new animal transportation policy. Although our link to communicate with United Airlines does contain talking points that may be helpful in crafting your communication, we strongly recommend that you personalize this letter to describe your own situation. If you or any of your suppliers transport products with United, please share that fact. Please share this as widely as possible.