This morning I watched a great segment on the Today Show's Rossen Reports called "Pets on planes: Are passengers lying to get animals on flights?" and it got me thinking. My first thought was, they're right, people are scamming the system to take their pets on planes and it's just plain wrong. How sad that people who genuinely need an emotional support pet are going to be penalized and possibly kept from having the support they need to fly. But then I gave it a bit more thought. Why would someone go to the trouble to bring a pet on an aircraft when they could just check them with their luggage? Are they cheap and trying to save money? Are they so attached to their beloved cat or dog or pig or ferret that they can't bare to be apart from them for even a few hours? Are they selfish and don't care about the other passengers that could be inconvenienced or possibly allergic to their pet?
After much consideration, and a few cups of java, the answer I came up with, in most cases, is NO! In fact, the answer I came up with is FEAR. That awful feeling of being out of control over what is happening to your cherished friend. Fear that the baggage handler doesn't like animals and may taunt and mistreat your best friend. Fear that the compartment on the plane isn't heated and my dog will end up a canine Popsicle. Fear that it's dark and loud and that the cute and energetic bundle of joy that I drop off in Cincinnati will be traumatized by the time we reach LA.
I don't know about you but I often take better care of my rescue mutt, Rascal, then myself, carefully selecting his food, interviewing kennels and endlessly researching the vet hospital I take him too. If we really want to be honest, I like Rascal better than most people I know, since he rarely keeps the car out past midnight and only occasionally ruins my day a mess. So the thought of turning him over to a stranger to trust that they will care for him as I do is challenging to say the least.
I mean, let's be real, the only new stories I have ever seen about flying with pets was about the baggage compartment that was 150 degrees and roasted the family dog. The cat that was missing for days because the owner went to Boston and Fluffy went to Orlando and so on. It hasn't been pretty and seems to be a mystery to even those of us who work in the travel industry. So why doesn't the airline talk about the flying experience for pets? Your guess is as good as mine.
So what if...........there was an airline that was different. An airline that offered a pet concierge service, for a cost of course. Wouldn't you pay a little more to guarantee the care and safe return of "man's best friend". I know I would. What if you could walk your pet down the jet way and hand him over to this person who personally put them on the plane, in a compartment that was well lit, temperature controlled and sound proofed. I don't know about you, but that would certainly work for me.
I'm not saying that "Big R", as he is affectionately known by our family, needs to be in first class. Heck, he doesn't even need to be in coach. The truth is, I don't WANT to bring him in the cabin. I don't want to worry that he may decide the aisle is a grass area and relieve himself or decide that the gentleman in 4C looks like my local mail carrier and bark like a crazy man. I just want him to be cared for with the love and the respect that he so deserves as one of the true loves of my life.
(My daughter Courtney with Rascal)