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Cargo-hold Flying Can Traumatize Animals

By Jessica Fargen on

Dogs and cats stuck in the cramped cargo holds of planes may not find the skies so friendly.

Animal behaviorists say pets who fly in storage can suffer short-term and even long-lasting effects from being airborne.

“Many pets become quite fearful when they are flown in a cargo hold,” said Suzanne Hetts, co-owner of Animal Behavior Associates Inc. in Denver, which helps people with unruly pets. “There’s a lot of noises and vibrations. I’m not sure the temperature is well regulated.”

Hetts, a certified animal behaviorist, said some pets could suffer “generalized fear of noises” after a bad cargo hold experience.

“Sometimes dogs generalize in ways we can’t predict,” she said.

Cargo holds typically aren’t climate controlled, there’s no water or food and crates can sometimes be placed upside down, said Yody Blass, owner of the Washington D.C.-area Companion Animal Behavior. All that can cause major anxiety for a pet, she said.

“They are already stressed out because they don’t know where they are or what’s going on. They are hearing all these noises,” said Blass, an animal behaviorist. “It’s extremely stressful.”

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