August 28, 2009
Do You Trust Commercial Airlines with Your Hunting Dog?
By David DiBenedetto
The day I picked up Pritch from the breeder I met a guy there who was also getting a pup. He was the captain of a large sport fishing boat that was moored in the Bahamas. He was also a pilot and intended to bring his dog with him when he flew to the boat aboard his private plane. Sounded pretty ideal.
Sadly, my lifestyle is a bit different. My boat is only 17-feet long and is docked at the local marina. And I don’t fly my own plane. If intend to take Pritch hunting in, say, Stuttgart, Arkansas for ducks or to Texas for the mother of all dove hunts I’d either drive or have to load Pritch on a commercial airliner.
Problem is, I’m pretty darn fearful of loading Pritch in the underbelly of an airline. I’ve heard all of the horror stories…about the guy who looked out his passenger window to see his dog scampering around the runway or how some former airline employees say they would never subject their dog to a commercial flight.
The good news is, there have been some improvements. Continental has a PetSafe program with a 24-hour desk dedicated to tracking pets in flight and all animals travel in climate-controlled conditions. And recently a new airline, Pet Airways (above), was launched that caters only to animals. On each flight there’s a trained “pet attendant” who checks on the animals every 15 minutes. (Sounds better than the treatment humans get these days on airlines.) But for now there’s only one plane in the fleet and the destinations are limited to New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Denver.
I know that plenty of canines are flown all over the country without incident every day, but I’m curious how many of you travel with your gun dog to distant hunting locations via the friendly skies?