Flying with pets will require the pilot to consider some things not typically considered. The size and weight of the pets needs to be determined and the carriers they will fit in must be able to fit in the plane and be secured. It is a good idea to have available various sized carriers. Often a combination of sizes will maximize the number of animals that can potentially be carried. Use some type of bedding for the carriers. Use bedding that is clean, and that can be washed before re-use.
For larger animals a pet harness that can be secured to seat belts or seat belt attachment points can also be considered. It should be an approved car safety transport harness.
It may be possible and even desired to put more than one animal in a carrier. This allows more animals to be transported but the animals need sufficient room to be comfortable and the animals must be accustomed to sharing a crate with each other. It is not a good idea to make animals share a crate for the first time during a flight. It is also important to ask your rescue contact when transporting if any of the animals are in season. You may need to consider this when transporting animals of opposite genders. If you have any questions regarding anything relative to the animals during transport please contact the sending or receiving rescue.
Allow the animals to relieve themselves before being loaded. Even if this is done some animals will relieve themselves in the plane and some will vomit. Expect this to happen. It may help if the animals have a limited intake of food or water prior to the flight. However, as soon as the trip is complete provide water and some nutrition for the animals. ** If the outside temperatures are hot or cold, please be considerate of the animals you are transporting. Smaller animals and puppies dehydrate easily in hot weather or in an enclosed crate. Please have water on hand and even an icepack if possible to keep the dogs cool. Good ventilation and flowing air for them is important, just as it is for us. Even if the flight is of short duration accidents can and will happen. Carry plastic bags to put the bedding in for the return flight to minimize odors in the cabin as a result of accidents.
Sedating animals is a decision best left to the veterinarians. Almost all animals that are vocal when loaded quiet down and sleep once the plane is running or airborne. Occasionally an animal will bark or yelp or make noises. It is probably not necessary to sedate an animal unless it has some type of behaviour problems or is easily scared. Often talking in a soothing voice to the animal relaxes the animal.
Ask the sending rescue/agent for the proper paperwork showing that the animal has a current rabies tag and health certificate. For your convenience we have included a link on the Pilots-N-Paws site which shares information under the USDA section for pets. It is under our Important Links section:http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export ... ates.shtml
IMPORTANT!! ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR CRATES AND PLANE SEATS AFTER EACH TRANSPORT. Puppies are very susceptible to parvo virus. Please take the time to read about Parvo virus and the steps needed to protect the animals you transport and your own animals. Talk with your personal vet and investigate other possible transmittable diseases and how to prevent them.http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/dognz/a/parvodog.htm
Be sensitive to the fact that unlike humans who swallow and yawn when they feel the altitude changes in their ears, the animals being transported don't know things like that and they may feel discomfort during climbs and descents. Minimize the rate of those climbs or descents to minimize the discomfort to animals. If possible protect them from noise. There are products on the market to protect the ears of dogs from loud noise such as the engine of the plane.
Pilots beginning to fly with animals may wish to have some assistance on initial flights. A person comfortable with general aviation flying and animals will prove to not only be good company, but can help with the various chores related to a flight. That person can also monitor the animals during the flight. Loading an animal into the carrier is sometimes difficult and is is especially beneficial if there is help available. Ultimately, the final reward of getting these animals to safety is a feeling of great accomplishment. If you are an animal lover, you will understand the great gift you are giving.
Don't forget to do a weight and balance