For anyone that knows me, they know I'm emotional. I cry at everything, and I mean everything. I had a good cry when I heard the news that Jack the Cat lost his battle to recover. I never knew Jack or his owner, I'm just one of the 23,000+ people who followed his story on facebook and hoped for a happy ending.
If you don't know who Jack the Cat is, he's the beautiful kitty who was lost in the American Airlines baggage area at JFK airport. After two months on his own, he fell through a ceiling tile and for those of us following his story, we thought he was on his way to making back home with his momma. Unfortunately, two months fending for himself was just too much. Even with trying for every possible treatment available Jack's mom had to make the very, very difficult decision to end his suffering and let him go. So many of us have been in that position and we all know how hard it is. You have so much hope that a miracle will happen, but reality tells you that you have to be honest and do what's best for your loved one. You have to be thankful in that moment that you have one last opportunity to hold your pet, show them love and be with them when they pass on.
I made the following post on Jack's facebook page:
I am so sorry about the loss of Jack, but I think in this moment, this is where we make his life count. I think it's up to every one of the 23,000+ people on this page to band together to change the way our pets travel. Based on the number of pets that we lose every year, the airline processes and regulations are insufficient and that is unacceptable. Our pets deserve better and it's time we demand it.
And that's why I'm making this post. We have to demand a change. No one wants to fly their animal in cargo, but most pets are too big to fly in the cabin and there are situations (like Jack's) where a move across country or some other situation requires it. Unfortunately, it seems that baggage carriers are treating our beloved pets the same way they treat our bags, carelessly and with little regard for the shape they're in when they make it back into their owners hands.
So this is the part where we start speaking up, making sure everyone hears our voices and make change happen. If everyone can take just a few minutes to email, call and share Jack's story we can make this happen. So here's what you can do.
First, sign the petition to create "Jack's Law." This would require airlines to put GPS (or similar technology) tracking devices (collars, legs bands, or harness, etc) on family pets traveling in cargo holds. This would allow for a quick recovery of any pet who happens to get lost in transit.
After you sign, write a letter or make a phone call to one of the following organizations. Tell them that as a pet owner you are unsatisfied with the procedures and regulations associated with pets flying cargo. Demand that these processes be changed and improved to ensure the safety of our pets. Request that baggage handlers undergo new, updated training to ensure that even just transporting the pets in their kennels to the plane is done properly and safely. Ask that there be consequences and that airlines be held responsible for their actions when situations like Jack's arise.
US Department of Agriculture: The USDA provides standards for shipping dogs and cats in their Animal Welfare Regulations. You can contact the USDA by mail, e-mail, fax or phone at the following locations:
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737-1234
Phone: (301) 734-7833
Fax: (301) 734-4978
USDA/APHIS/AC: Western Region
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Phone: (970) 494-7478
Fax: (970) 494-7461
USDA/APHIS/AC: Eastern Region
920 Main Campus Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606-5210
Phone: (919) 855-7100
Fax: (919) 855-7123
The International Air Transport Association : According to the IATA they "lead a number of industry initiatives involving safety, security, environment and the quality of air travel." You can contact the IATA by mail, fax or phone at the following locations:
IATA Regional Office for the Americas
703 Waterford Way (NW 62nd Avenue) Suite 600
Miami, Florida 33126
Phone : 1 (305) 264-7772
Fax : 1 (305) 264-8088
Air Transport Association: Founded in 1936, the Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA) is the nation's oldest and largest airline trade association. The association's fundamental purpose is to foster a business and regulatory environment that ensures safe and secure air transportation. You can contact the ATA by mail, phone and email.
Air Transport Association (ATA)
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20004
Let's not let Jack's struggle be in vain. Let Jack's legacy be a change in the way our pets our treated by airlines, not as baggage, but as living, breathing beings. And tonight, hug your pets a little closer and send some healing thoughts to Karen as she once again has to cope with the loss of Jack.