So, it’s happened again – another animal has gone missing as a result of airline mis-handling (this time the airline is LOT Polish Airlines). On Tuesday, May 15, Tosha went missing from LOT checked baggage/cargo and her people were told she was missing after they had boarded the plane.
And on top of this, the Friends of Jack have heard rumors (still unconfirmed) that another dog went missing from a different airline the previous week.
So what did anybody who works in the airline industry at JFK or the Port Authority (JFK’s governing body) actually learn from Jack’s ordeal?? Or for that matter, from any of the animals that have been lost as a result of airline mishandling?
The team of searchers from Heavenly Angels Animal Rescue (the agency that placed Tosha with her family, who had boarded that LOT plane), and searchers Bonnie Folz and Angela Vitucci (FoJs), found that the Port Authority Police AND employees of LOT airlines were unaware that a dog had been lost on airport grounds. They were unaware of this 48 hours after Tosha had gone missing!!!
Jack went missing on the evening of August 25, 2011. Before dawn on the morning of August 26, I spoke to a very nice woman at an AA call center who gave me the direct dial number to JFK baggage. I began calling them at 7am. I spoke to the supervisor there at 730am – and the baggage supervisor was totally unaware that Jack had been lost! To say I was horrified was an understatement. There was a cat lost in his baggage area, and he didn’t even know to look for it!!
Surely, this was just a problem with AA. Other airlines had to be more together than this.
But it seems not.
After a two month period in which we’ve seen 3 – and possibly 4 – dogs be in danger as a result of air travel, it just becomes clearer and clearer that the system isn’t really working to keep our pets safe.
Now I hear the naysayers – “How many dogs and cats have travelled through just the New York City airports in the last 2 months? And there have only been 3 (well, maybe 4) incidents? That’s not so bad, really…”
Of course, if you think pets are just “things” – no different from a sofa or a laptop or a purse – you’d be right. I’m sure that far more than 3 (or maybe 4) pieces of luggage have been mishandled at LGA and JFK in the last two months.
But I refuse to accept that our loving, loyal, smart, devoted COMPANIONS are no different than a laptop.
And because they ARE DIFFERENT – they deserve to be treated with more care, more diligence, and MORE RESPECT.
Accidents happen. But when an accident effects a pet, it is an accident on a different level than merely finding all one’s sweaters on the ground in baggage claim.
When an accident happens with a pet, that pet deserves to be searched for beginning the moment it is lost. And if they aren’t immediately found, they deserve to be searched for by concerned experts until they are found.
Here’s my bottom line: If a dog or cat is lost by airline mishandling the airline involved is responsible to begin intensive search IMMEDIATELY. If the pet is not found within an hour, airport police and local experts (e.g., Missing Pet Partnership or its local equivalent) should be contacted to immediately intensify the search. This is not a situation where an animal is just running around its neighborhood and can walk back in the front door. The pet is in unfamiliar – and dangerous - territory. Search efforts must be made quickly, and with extraordinary intensity.
It seems like common sense, doesn’t it?
But I guess common sense is not so common.
And unfortunately, it seems to be in especially short supply at airports.