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(US KY) ANIMALS WITH ALTITUDE August 22, 2005 9:12 AM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about 2 million animals are moved by air each year. Here are some tips from the ASPCA and the Air Transport Association to make a pet's flight safer. Before booking a flight for your pet, it's best to call the airline and check requirements and availability.

Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and an identification tag.-Include destination information. Breakaway collars are best for cats.

Book a direct flight if possible and avoid heavy travel times (weekends and holidays). This will decrease the likelihood of your pet being left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel.

Purchase a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to stand, sit and change-position comfortably.

Write "Live Animal" in large-letters on the crate. Use arrows to show the upright position.

Write the name, address and telephone number of your pet's destination on the top of the crate.

Check with your vet before-tranquilizing your pet. It's generally not recommended, as it could hamper breathing.

Affix a photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification, just in case the animal escapes. Also carry a photograph.

Line the crate bottom with-absorbent bedding.

Provide food and water, attached to the outside of the crate, so-airline personnel can feed the animal during long-distance flights.

Securely close your crate, but don't lock the door, so airline personnel can open it if necessary.

Tell every airline employee you encounter that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold so that any additional considerations or-attention can be provided. If the plane is delayed, or you have any concerns, insist that airline personnel check the animal when feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaning may be warranted.


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