Airlines required to shed more light on pet deaths

Travelers who want to bring Fido or Fluffy along on their trips will soon get more details about pet deaths and mishaps on airline flights.

After a string of airline pet deaths in recent years — including on Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines — the U.S. Department of Transportation says it will require carriers to report more information on animal incidents during their trips.

Starting next year, U.S. airlines must report losses, injuries or deaths of animals including not just pets, but also cats and dogs that are shipped by breeders or in another type of commercial shipment.

Also, airlines will report annually how many animals they transport — which could give travelers an idea of the rate of animal deaths, rather than just a flat number of incidents.

In years past, Delta had the most pet deaths of any U.S. airline, but it has also said that it carries more pets than many other airlines. The new reporting requirements could give travelers more perspective to compare carriers.

More recently, Delta has improved its record on pets.

Delta reported 16 pet deaths in 2010, 19 in 2011, 10 in 2012 and two in 2013. The improvements came after the airline in 2011 added more restrictions on pet travel after a string of deaths of bulldogs and other snub-nosed breeds like pugs and Persian cats that can have difficulty breathing.

Delta said in comments to the DOT that it supports the idea of reporting how many animals a carrier transports in total, but that it believes the rate of animal incidents should be calculated per passenger, rather than per animal transported.

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