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This Airport Terminal is Going to the Dogs

Posted by Sarah Simonovich on

...and the horses and the cats.

Traveling with pets can be ruff. And incredibly stressful (to both those on two legs and four). Every so often we hear the occasional high-profile horror stories about dogs who died after being on flights. And regardless of whether the airline is at fault or it was simply the result of a terrible accident, nobody wants to go through this experience-no matter how infrequently these cases occur.

Still, for those of us who love our furry companions like family, the mere thought of bringing them aboard a plane as cargo can make us hesitate-especially if they're too large to travel in the cabin in a carrier under the seat. Those not permitted in the cabin can be checked baggage in the cargo hold (unaccompanied and/or very large pets travel as manifest cargo in the hold).

Airlines have different policies when it comes to traveling with pets-pettravel.com can be a useful resource for bringing your animals on planes.

Most airlines have designated areas for traveling animals, whether it's boarding for layovers or providing animal relief areas for service dogs (as required by this mandate). But the ARK at JFK wants to further improve accommodations and streamline the process of pet travel. 

The Furst-of-its-Kind

The ARK at the JFK International Airport offers -pre- and post-travel care and veterinary services for pets, horses, birds, livestock and exotic animals in a competent and compassionate manner.- The state-of-the-art facility provides a number of services, including to board, kennel, quarantine, import, export, and transport animals both large and small. It's the only animal terminal in North America and, pending USDA approval, it will be the first full-service 24-hour privately owned airport quarantine facility.

ARK boasts 178,000 square feet of facility and over 14 acres of surrounding grounds, including aircraft ramp parking and land use for animal handling. The facility has separate areas that hold their accommodations, including Air Cargo holding, a business center, USDA Aviary Quarantine, a Veterinary Clinic, Pet Boarding services, USDA Equine Import and Export, and an In-Transit Companion Animal -spa- known as the Pet Oasis.

The Pet Oasis is the airport lounge equivalent for pets arriving, departing, or those who are in-between flights. Owners can drop off their companions before takeoff for a pre-flight walk and a survey of the crate for airline compliance. The transit staff then transport the animals to the aircraft in coordination with departure time. Upon arrival, the staff picks up the wearied, pet traveler and handles all the custom details. At the Oasis, Fido is then treated with a bath (putting the paw in spa), a meal, a groom, and a nice stroll before being tucked into an individual kennel while they wait for mom or dad.

The Future of Animal Travel?

Once your furry (or feathered) friend leaves ARK for the aircraft, the pampering unfortunately ends. However, it makes sure that your pets get the proper care they deserve in what is meant to be a stress-free setting. While a bone-shaped pool and a spa that gives -pawdicures- seem like luxuries, the hope is that these services will instead be seen as reasonable services.

As pets increasingly become members of the household (and so much more than just pets), the expectation for animal treatment to mirror that of humans also increases. And as pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and other activities become easier to find with the help of websites such as BringFido, we don't want to leave our pets behind--we want to bring them with us! We don't like to think of our best friend as -cargo- because chances are, we value them way more than our luggage. And that they are living, breathing beings means that we expect that to carry a certain weight. We want others to treat them like we treat them-like family. Maybe we'll see an increase in pet travel. And perhaps such demand will prompt more (and better) changes when it comes to flying our four-legged friends.

If you feel this way and have plans to fly in or out of JFK with your animal companion, you can find more information on their services on their website.



Do you have experience traveling in an airplane with your pet? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments below:

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