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 on the incidence of 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 their trips.

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

And, airlines will report annually how many animals they transport in total — which could give travelers a better 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.

And 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 similar snub-nosed breeds. Such animals — including pit bulls, pugs and Persian cats — can have difficulty breathing, especially in cargo holds.

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