• 14 Aug 2015 3:44 PM | Anonymous

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Forzano, 24, doesn't go anywhere without his yellow Labrador retriever. A software developer in Seattle, Forzano is blind, and in the five years he's owned his guide dog, Delta, he has not once been denied entry into a business establishment.

    That was before he tried hailing an Uber ride.

    This year alone, he’s had seven Uber and Lyft drivers deny him service -- and drive off without him and his service animal.

    “I almost missed a flight once, I’ve been late to meetings. … I’ve had it happen two times in a row, back-to-back,” Forzano said, explaining that this type of incident happens to him at least once every month or so. “It’s really frustrating, really inconvenient and really discriminating is what it is. No one else has to deal with this.”

    Sarah Funes, 24, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, has had similar experiences. On multiple occasions, Funes has ordered an Uber ride only to have her driver take off after seeing her wheelchair. On one particular occasion in Boston, the driver added insult to injury after he drove off, by charging for the ride instead of canceling it -- although Funes later received a refund.

    Unfortunately, Forzano and Funes are not alone. Throughout the country Uber and Lyft customers report problems with accommodations for guide dogs and wheelchairs. In the worst cases, they describe their experiences as feeling humiliation, harassment and discrimination. Many members of San Francisco's disabled community know at least one person who’s had to deal with prejudiced drivers, or they've experienced it at least once themselves.

    Discrimination Suits Pile Up

    These types of incidents have lead to a series of lawsuits against both Uber and Lyft that accuse the companies of violating or failing to uphold the Americans with Disabilities Act, which this year celebrated its 25th anniversary. In California, Uber is being sued by the National Federation of the Blind of California for denying service to customers with guide dogs. The lawsuit alleges a driver forced one passenger’s dog into the trunk of the car. In Texas, a woman is suing Lyft, saying she was denied a ride due to her wheelchair and claiming that the company does not have a single wheelchair-accessible vehicle in Austin. Similarly, Uber was hit with a federal lawsuit just last week, claiming the company does not do enough to make its service accessible to customers with wheelchairs in the Manhattan borough of New York City.

    “We wanted to be treated as consumers like everyone else,” Funes said. “If there are people willing to spend money to use your service ... then you should make it accessible so you can get that money. It’s weird that they’re driving out an entire population of people.”

    Both Uber and Lyft have policies in place that prohibit drivers from denying service to customers with disabilities. When drivers first align with the companies, they are shown videos that let them know they must adhere to the ADA. If a driver violates the ADA, he or she faces the possibility of being removed from both the Uber and Lyft platforms after the companies review each incident. Additionally, both companies have also begun to take steps to provide rides designed specifically for customers with disabilities.

    Uber, for example, last year launched UberAssist, a service that costs the same as the standard Uber service [UberX] but can accommodate seniors and some riders with disabilities by connecting them with drivers who’ve received special training. Uber in 2014 also launched UberAccess and UberWAV, through which Uber connects with local taxi companies and paratransit services to provide customers with wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Both of these services, however, are available only in select markets.

    “The Uber app was built to expand access to safe, reliable transportation options for all, including users with disabilities,” an Uber spokeswoman said. “Any report of discrimination initiates a review of the situation and may lead to deactivation from the Uber platform.”

    Lyft, meanwhile, has similar programs in certain cities. In Chicago, the company places a 10-cent fee on each nonaccessible ride, with the money given to a city-run fund for accessible vehicles. Both companies also work with organizations like the National Federation of the Blind and tech-accessibility experts to ensure their services work well for customers with disabilities. “Lyft aims to accommodate anyone in the community who needs a ride, and many disabled individuals, who were previously underserved by existing transportation options, now actively use and rely on Lyft as a reliable, safe and affordable way to get around,” a Lyft spokeswoman said.

    'A Total Godsend'

    Many disabled customers agree that Uber and Lyft have made getting around easier than was previously possible. For blind customers, for example, hailing a ride is much easier than before, and because all payments are handled via an app, these customers don’t have to worry that a driver might overcharge them.

    “For us [Uber has] been a total godsend. It’s really been a great addition to our lives,” said Casey Mathews, 37, who is blind and works as an access-technology specialist. Mathews praised how easy it is for him to hail an Uber ride and how affordable the fares are. In general, Mathews said he’s had a good experience -- except for the time he and his wife, who is also blind and has a guide dog, encountered a driver who got very upset and refused to drive them after realizing there was a service animal involved. This incident occurred as Mathews and his wife were leaving the National Federation of the Blind’s conference last month in their hometown of Orlando, Florida.

    “The guy was a real jerk about the whole thing,” Mathews said.

    Despite efforts to improve conditions for the disabled, most customers with wheelchairs or guide dogs know there’s a realistic chance they’ll run into a driver who doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the ADA and refuses them service. This is why many customers with disabilities think Uber and Lyft are not doing enough to ensure that drivers are properly trained.

    Uber and Lyft could easily avoid more guide dog incidents if they offered more effective training, critics say. For example, Uber and Lyft could test their drivers to ensure they actually watch the onboarding videos that cover the ADA, said Dan Kysor, 60, of Sacramento, California, who is blind and has been denied service when riding with a friend who is also blind and has a guide dog. Kysor is set to get a service dog of his own in October and expects he will be denied rides.

    “I’m still going to support [Uber] and work within their platform because I just don’t know any superior way to get around,” Kysor said.

    'They Freak Out'

    More training for drivers also would help passengers who use wheelchairs, as many drivers do not understand that several kinds of wheelchairs are foldable and can easily fit in a regular car. “There’s an initial hesitation of they don’t know what to do because they’ve never had a [passenger with a wheelchair] before, and they freak out,” Funes said.

    However, additional training will never solve the need for more accessible vehicles that can transport customers with large wheelchairs or scooters. UberAccess may solve this problem in cities like New York City, Chicago and Austin, but it does nothing for customers in cities like Houston, Phoenix or Washington, D.C. Many experts on disability transportation matters also argue that Uber and Lyft’s partnerships with existing cab companies are inherently flawed as these are the same fleets with which Uber and Lyft compete and have been putting out of business.

    “I don’t care if Uber replaces Yellow Cabs, but I do care if they refuse to provide service to people who use wheelchairs,” said James Weisman, president and CEO of the United Spinal Association.

    Uber and Lyft dispute this claim, but many disabled customers and experts point to cities like Philadelphia that have had a tough time finding buyers for taxi medallions that require wheelchair-accessible vehicles and would make it easier for disabled customers to find suitable rides. Many disabled customers argue Lyft and Uber could change their ways and require accessible vehicles in their fleets but don’t want to because that might be seen by some regulators as reason enough to convert drivers from contractors to employees.

    “Uber’s made it really clear it doesn’t want to do that because that would make them a transportation company, and they would have to be regulated like a transportation company,” said Rachel Tanenhaus, 41, of Medford, Massachusetts, who claimed she has been denied service on many occasions because of her guide dog. There was one weekend where Lyft gave Tanenhaus a voucher because of a denied ride, but when she tried to use the voucher a few days later, the second driver also refused to drive her.

    For many customers with service animals or wheelchairs, they will begrudgingly continue to use Uber and Lyft because there aren’t better options available or because they are hopeful that one by one they can weed out bad drivers. But other customers, like Tanenhaus, say neither Uber nor Lyft will get their money until they change their ways and ensure that disabled customers won’t face discrimination.

    “I was excited about using them originally, and now I’m just pissed at them,” Tanenhaus said. “They weren’t nearly as excited about me.”

    Full story here:

  • 14 Aug 2015 3:41 PM | Anonymous

    (ANSA) - Rome, August 10 - Many of Italy's 60 million pet owners take their non-human loved ones with them on holiday, a survey commissioned by Royal Canin pet food makers showed Monday.

    A full 76% of respondents said they "very much or fairly" in favor of bringing a pet along on holiday, according to the study by Squadrati pollsters.

    As well, 47% of dog owners and 20% of cat owners "always" bring their pet with them on holiday

    A website called Solo Affitti Vacanze has partnered with the National Animal Protection Agency (ENPA) to provide a portal for pet owners who want to find animal-friendly vacation solutions.

    The portal,, lists over 21,000 accommodations that welcome domestic animals.

    The site also provides information about options for animal transport.

    Besides cats and dogs, many airlines also allow animals such as birds, ferrets, fish, rodents, and turtles.

    The most animal-friendly destination in Europe is Switzerland, where 63% of accommodations allow pets, followed by Germany at 60.

    A HotelTonight ranking of Italy's most pet-friendly cities showed Turin, Milan, and Bologna as the top three, with Rome in 10th place.

    For Italians who opt to have a pet-free holiday, however, 65% turn to family and friends to take care of their domestic animals, the Squadrati study said.

    Full story here:

  • 14 Aug 2015 3:39 PM | Anonymous

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015, Ukraine International Airlines transported two maras and three meerkats on its regular flights PS102 Amsterdam – Kiev and PS611 Kiev – Yerevan. Transportation of animals was carried out under the UIA Professional Cargo Solutions program.

    Having arrived from Amsterdam, the animals spent 2.5 connecting hours at Kiev Boryspil International airport under specialists’ care and then departed to their final destination – Yerevan Zoo.

    Professional transportation of wild and exotic animals is a part of the freight portfolio of Ukraine International Airlines, that has been successfully transporting animals to zoos all around the world for many years.

    “Transportation of wild animals is a technically difficult and highly responsible task that requires special skills and vast experience in live cargo handling, – noted Evgeniya Magas, UIA Senior Cargo Product Manager. – Due to the prompt and well-coordinated teamwork, and thanks to the well-timed customs clearance, we managed to make the animals’ transfer in Kiev in the shortest possible time. During their long journey maras and meerkats were provided with the most comfortable flight conditions, specific nutrition, and special care”.

    Full story here:

  • 07 Aug 2015 3:36 PM | Anonymous

    Police in Germany were in for a shock last week when they found a pony in the back of a car.

    A woman was driving along an autobahn at Bad Oeynhau near Hannover when she was pulled over by police.

    However, when police checked out her car — a Fiat Panda — they found a Shetland pony travelling in the boot. The pony was quietly sitting on a bed on straw in the hatchback of the car, much to the officers’ surprise.

    “A patrol car team found a somewhat unusual horsebox,” read a police statement.

    The woman reportedly told police officers she was planning to drive the pony across the border to the Czech Republic.

    She was 60 miles into a potential 300-mile journey when she was stopped.

    The police statement continued: “Since this transport was not appropriate to the species, officers prevented the onward journey.”

    The owner of the pony, whom the driver was going to meet, came to collect the animal from the police station.

    It is undecided whether police action will be taken against the woman.

    This is not the first equine in a car to be reported on by H&H.

    In 2010 a video of a horse travelling in the back of a car in Kansas became a YouTube sensation.

    The horse was captured on camera by Rick Potter, who was driving to Walmart with his wife and two children.

    The family were driving on the I-75 highway between Osage City and Topeka when they noticed the unusual backseat passenger.

    According to reports the horse was called Rascal and is owned by Kansas-based Jerry Miller.


  • 07 Aug 2015 3:32 PM | Anonymous

    A new campaign to make Ireland’s roads safer for horse riders has been launched, coinciding with the start of the Dublin Horse Show.

    The booklet – ‘Horse Road Safety on Public Roads’ – contains guidelines for both riders and drivers, and is an initiative of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and An Garda Síochána. The booklet is the first of its kind in Ireland.

    Wednesday’s launch  was attended by Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe TD, Team Ireland Equestrian u25 eventing squad member Melanie Young, and members of the Garda Mounted Unit.

    The booklet will provide road-users and horse riders with prescriptive advice on using the roads safely together. It provides practical information for drivers and riders such as: how to ride, lead or drive horses on the road; rider clothing and safety equipment; road signs and signalling; how to behave at junctions; and dealing with a riding collision on the road.

    Minister Donohoe said Ireland had a proud tradition in equestrian sport at national and international level.  “As a result, thousands of people across Ireland enjoy horse-riding both professionally and as a hobby, and so it is important that guidelines are in place for how to share the roads safely with other road-users.

    “So this booklet is an important guide for anyone who rides or walks with horses on public roads, and for all road-users who may encounter horses and their riders during their travels.”

    Road Safety Authority Chairperson Liz O’Donnell said the RSA regularly received queries from the public who are unsure what to do when sharing the roads with horses.

    “I am delighted that the RSA is partnering with HSI to provide these much-needed guidelines to all road-users and to anyone who might be riding, leading or walking with horses on public roads.

    “This booklet will help to clarify what the most appropriate behaviour is in certain situations. Horse and riders have every right to be on our roads, but like all other road-users, they must follow the Rules of the Road. So I would encourage people to get a copy of the booklet, familiarise yourself with the guidelines and understand how to share the roads safely.”

    Horse Sport Ireland Chief Executive Damian McDonald said there were estimated to be up to 200,000 riding horses in Ireland across the horse-racing and sport horse industry.

    “Many of their owners and trainers use public roads to exercise or train their horses or to move them from one location to another, so Horse Sport Ireland is delighted to have a set of guidelines for helping to ensure their safety when using the roads.

    “All road users have a duty of care to share the road in a safe and socially responsible way, and horses and their riders are no exception. We will be distributing the booklet to all of our members and encouraging them to share it with their colleagues, friends and family.”

    Mark Curran, Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Traffic Bureau, said An Garda Síochána was supportive of any initiative that promotes road safety. “This campaign emphasises the need for all road-users to respect each other on the roads, to be aware that there are different modes of transport and to be better informed on how to behave appropriately in certain situations. Please remember that horses can be unpredictable and easily spooked, therefore always give them a wide birth and pass with great care.”

    The booklet will be available at Driving Test Centres, Theory Test Centres, Garda Stations, libraries, as well as being available to download (2MB PDF).  Horse Sport Ireland will also be distributing copies to their members.

    Read more:

  • 07 Aug 2015 3:29 PM | Anonymous

    Plainfield — A Tennessee resident transporting 30 dogs, 17 without proper health certificates and other documents, was arrested earlier this summer at a public parking lot, the state Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday.

    The arrest occurred June 27 as part of a task force of animal control officers from the state Department of Agriculture and inspectors from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as Plainfield police targeting unlicensed animal importers who transfer dogs and cats to adopters for donation fees, the agriculture department said in a news release.

    Also participating were state police troopers and officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    Two other importers from Tennessee and one from Ohio, carrying a total of 45 dogs and cats, were also issued citations as a result of the task force action.

    The public is advised to be aware of illegal dog and cat sales by out-of-state organizations portraying themselves as animal rescue organizations but who are not licensed to do business in Connecticut, the agriculture department said.

    The USDA licenses and regulates transport and sale of animals. Transporters doing business in Connecticut also must obtain an importation license from the state agriculture department and file notice of any intended sale event.

    Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky said the unlicensed sales are not only illegal but often involve animals that have health issues and have not been given proper veterinary care.

    "Buying or adopting an animal represents a long-term commitment and should never be done on impulse or without researching both the animal and the seller," Reviczky said. "Far too many well-intentioned people are going home with animals that they believe are healthy, but are later found to have serious and expensive health issues."

    Verification that a seller or importer is licensed and has filed event notices can be found on the state’s E-Licensing website.

    Potential buyers should also ask for a copy of the animal's health certificate, carefully read any contract offered, and where the drop-off will be. If it is in a state commuter lot, the adoption is not legal because no commercial business is allowed in the lots, the agriculture department said.

    The June 27 task force operation came after an investigation into complaints that illegal importers were using commuter parking lots to conduct the transfer of animals, often on weekends.

    Buyers or adopters typically view the animals on an organization’s website, and arrange to meet the transporter in the lot at a specified time. Donation fees can commonly reach several hundred dollars.

    The arrest occurred after task force officers arriving at the state commuter lot on Interstate 395 at 7 a.m. on June 27 and observed a maroon van with Tennessee registration plates containing numerous dogs and cats, several of which had just been delivered to their new owners, the news release said.

    The transport company, Pooches on the Move, in Athens, Tenn., was not licensed to import animals into Connecticut.

    Company owner Cindy Rhoda was subsequently cited for one count of failing to register as an importer, and was also was cited for 16 counts of failing to provide an event notice — one for each animal brought into the state.

    Any animal importer who intends to offer a dog or cat for sale, adoption or transfer at a public venue such as a parking lot or shopping center is required to provide notice to the agriculture department and the local zoning enforcement officer no later than 10 days prior to the event.

    Violations carry a maximum fine of $100 per animal.

    An hour later, members of the task force went to a public parking lot in Plainfield, where several adopters were seen being handed dogs from a white van registered in Tennessee.

    After witnessing the exchange of cash between an adopter and the van’s driver, Timothy Giles, officers approached and found 17 animals inside.

    Giles, 64, owner of the K-9 Cowboy transport company in Franklin, Tenn., produced a valid Connecticut transport license but had outdated or improper health certificates and other documentation for several of the animals, the agriculture department said.

    Officers interviewed the adopters and learned that all were prepared to pay for the dogs by cash or check, agriculture department Animal Control Officer Todd Curry wrote in a report on the case.

    "However, with inspectors present during the transfer, Giles would hold his arms up in the air and refuse to take the payment," in order to avoid a violation, Curry wrote. "All adopters left without paying."

    Giles was arrested on seven misdemeanor charges stemming from the health certificate violations, one count of operating an animal facility without a license, and was cited for 17 counts of failing to provide event notices.

    Kyle Pederson, 42, also of Tennessee, was charged with operating an animal facility without a license after officers witnessed one of his workers taking $125 cash in exchange for one of 39 dogs found in his tractor-trailer parked at a state commuter lot in Plainfield.

    Pederson, owner of PETS Transport Company, was subsequently cited for 17 counts of failing to provide event notices.

    A fourth importer, Greg Mahler, 53, of Zanesville, Ohio, was cited for one count of failure to provide event notices after he was observed delivering dogs to several adopters from his Rescue Road Trips tractor-trailer at a public parking lot in Putnam that afternoon.

    The adopters told officers that they had prepaid for the dogs via Pay Pal or a credit card. Mahler was cited for one count of failing to provide an event notice.

    Full story here:

  • 07 Aug 2015 3:22 PM | Anonymous

    Some African countries that allow hunting have criticised a decision by a number of international airlines to ban the transport of parts of animals killed in hunts.

    South Africa’s environment ministry said it was disappointed at Delta Air Lines’s announcement this week that it will no longer accept lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo trophies.

    “The decision by Delta Air Lines to enforce a blanket ban fails to distinguish between the trade in and transportation of legally acquired wildlife specimens, and the illegal exploitation and trade in wildlife specimens,” the ministry said in a statement.

    South Africa has been struggling to contain a record surge in rhino poaching. And poachers across Africa have also slaughtered tens of thousands of elephants a year for their ivory in recent years.

    Neighbouring Namibia warned that a ban by airlines on trophy transportation will hurt its economy and conservation efforts that rely on revenue from hunters.

    “This will be the end of conservation in Namibia,” Pohamba Shifeta, the environment and tourism minister, was quoted as saying.

    South Africa says that if hunters cannot take their trophies home, a hunting industry worth nearly $500m (£323m) a year will suffer, affecting job creation and community development.

    In Namibia, more than 80 registered Namibian wildlife conservancies depend largely on funding from trophy hunting, according to the Namibia Press Agency.

    “If conservancy members have no income, they will abandon their role in protecting the country’s natural resources,” Shifeta said. “These anti-trophy hunting campaigns are very serious as many countries are joining the chorus now. It will also be uphill for the hunter if trophies are not to be shipped.”

    American Airlines and United Airlines announced a similar hunting trophy ban this week, though it is unclear how many trophies, if any, they have been carrying in recent years. Other airlines announcing bans include Air Canada, Air France and Qantas.

    The bans come amid outrage over the killing in Zimbabwe of Cecil – a well-known lion – by American dentist Walter Palmer.

    Full story here:

  • 07 Aug 2015 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    As the outrage over the recent killing of a famed Zimbabwe lion — and big-game hunting in general — ripples across the globe, even the airlines are now weighing in and issuing bans on the transport of exotic trophy animals.

    On Monday, Delta Air Lines — the only U.S. carrier with direct service to South Africa — issued the following statement that said it was banning the shipment of five type of large animals that are typically shipped as trophies:

        Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight. Prior to this ban, Delta's strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species. Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.

    The announcement came as debate over the killing of protected animals has continued, spurred on by the recent killing of Zimbabwe's Cecil the Lion by a Minnesota dentist.

    It also follows a massive online petition directed at the CEO of Delta Air Lines and signed by nearly 400,000 people asking the company "refuse to transport exotic animal hunting trophies." Chris Green, the Delta Diamond Medallion flyer with more than 650,000 miles under his belt who started it, said he was "thankful" that Delta announced the ban and called on other airlines to follow suit.

    One of those airlines, South Africa Airlines, lifted its ban on the trophies just last week.

    Delta isn't the only airline to have a policy on the shipment of such trophies as British Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Air Canada all issued statements regarding their policies or change in policies.

    A spokesperson for British Airways told Mashable via email,

        "We do not transport animal trophies of any kind." 

    "We do not transport animal trophies of any kind." We have always adhered to the rules set out by the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty which puts in place safeguards for hundreds of species." A petition of the airline to ban the shipment of trophies and has accumulated nearly 20,000 signatures.

    United Airlines told Mashable, "United restricts the shipment of lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies on our aircraft. [The ban on animals] that are not already protected species are effective immediately."

    Late Monday evening, American Airlines, who doesn't fly to the continent of Africa, issued the following statement.

    Southwest Airlines, which, like American, does not fly to Africa, replied to a request for comment by Mashable with a statement that included:

        As we plan to extend our Cargo service into the near-international space, we are thoroughly reviewing and updating our polices where applicable. We are fully compliant with law and governmental regulations of any jurisdiction to, from, or through which the shipment may be carried, including those relating to the packing, carriage, or delivery of the shipment.

    And on Tuesday morning, Air Canada issued a similar statement regarding their decision to no longer allow shipment of trophies.

    Full story here:

  • 07 Aug 2015 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    Colleen Kaczka is done with pets on planes and their "crybaby" owners. And with good reason.

    On a recent JetBlue flight from Newark to Orlando, an "emotional support" dog belonging to a first-class passenger defecated midflight. The stench filled the entire cabin and was almost unbearable to Kaczka and her son, who suffers from asthma.

    "Airlines are enabling a bunch of selfish people who have no concern for the people around them," says Kaczka, a teacher from South Plainfield, N.J.

    Perhaps. Confrontations between pets and passengers are at their worst now, during the dog days of summer. More pets are flying than ever, yet only half the respondents in a recent survey say animals belong in the passenger cabin of a commercial jet.

    But for every complaint like Kaczka's, I get another from a pet owner or disabled person who claims the exact opposite — that travel companies, and in particular, airlines, are not accommodating enough when it comes to their furry friends.

    Consider what happened to Christine Killian and her family when they tried to fly from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles with Sam the cat recently. The Killians were relocating to California, and they'd done everything to ensure Sam was airworthy. They'd purchased a carrier, filled out all the necessary paperwork and ensured he hadn't been fed before the trip.

    Still, Sam did what animals sometimes do – he went number two just before takeoff. The airline ejected the cat and their entire family from the flight.

    "I was mortified," said Killian, a stay-at-home mom.

    Eventually, the Killians flew to L.A. without Sam. The cat made the journey alone, using a pet transport, at a cost of $1,179.

    These stories raise a bigger question: In the absurd world of air travel, are pets more important than people?

    For Killian, the answer was obviously "no." But her travel problems may be a backlash of sorts. It happened on US Airways, a carrier that is particularly sensitive to flying pets. It infamously, and disastrously, allowed an "emotional support" pig on one of its planes last year after promising it would never do so again.

    But many air travelers will experience what Kaczka did: an animal that, for whatever reason, will be treated with the deference of an elite-level flier.

    There are several reasons for that. Federal regulations are permissive when it comes to "emotional support" animals, and protective of pets' rights. For example, the government sets minimum standards when it comes to an animal's carrier size, while curiously not setting minimum legroom standards for human passengers. Airlines also charge hefty pet transportation fees – sometimes more than the human airfare – and are reluctant to lose the revenue.

    Finally, and maybe most important, our values are shifting as a society. Pets are no longer just afforded equal rights as people – in some instances, they’re treated better.

    Donna Tinoco, who works for an advertising agency in Orlando, was surprised when she found herself sitting across the aisle from a medium-size dog in the first-class cabin on a transcontinental flight recently. It was not in a carrier and wasn't a service animal.

    She says although she loves dogs, there's a double standard. She wasn't allowed to bring anything with nuts on the plane, because some passengers might be allergic to it. Yet Tinoco has a mild allergy to pet dander.

    "I was not thrilled to have a dog sitting next to me for six hours," she says.

    Privately, airline executives will tell you that their hands are tied on this issue — that they're being pushed in one direction by federal regulations and another by upset passengers. For its part, JetBlue offered Kaczka a $50 voucher for the "inconvenience."

    But what airlines won't admit is that the deciding factor in all this is the money. Often, pet owners have more money to spend than parents with asthmatic kids. So guess who gets to have their way?

    The solution lies with airline passengers. They have to ask themselves if taking Fido on vacation is important enough to affect the health of another passenger. And if there's a problem on board, they'll need to decide whether moving to a different seat, away from an allergic passenger, or creating a scene that could delay or divert the flight, is worth their while.

    Here's hoping they make the the right call.

    How to avoid a midair confrontation

    • Call your airline. If you have a severe pet allergy, contact your airline. Carriers can make special arrangements to remove allergy-inducing materials from a flight with enough special notice or to let you move to another flight.

    • Take precautions. Travelers like Tinoco, who have a mild allergy, should always fly with a supply of Benadryl. If it's more serious, don't take off without a few EpiPens in your carry-on bag.

    • Enlist the crew. Flight attendants are trained to handle disagreements between passengers and other people's pets. The sooner you say something, the more options they have. Best case scenario: notifying the staff before your flight leaves. Once the doors close, their options are limited, particularly on a sold-out flight.

    Full story here:

  • 07 Aug 2015 2:54 PM | Anonymous

    In a bid to intensify its agitation against attacks on trucks transporting slaughter animals, the Kerala Cattle Merchants Association decided to keep all beef stalls in Kerala shut beginning Thursday.  The sector employs around 5 lakh traders.

    For the past two weeks, the association has led a protest against the against the attacks on cattle-laden trucks in Tamil Nadu.

    The BMC that manages the abattoir is losing about Rs 80,000 per day in the form of slaughtering and entry fees.

    Already, beef has almost disappeared from Kerala’s menu following the agitation that seeks “protection for safe transport of cattle”.

    Due to the ongoing protest, slaughter houses across the state were facing a shortage of animals. Besides, the traders increased the price of beef from Rs 250 to Rs 300 per kg due to the scarcity. Hotels, too, were refusing to supply beef due to the shortage of meat supply. Truck loads of slaughter animals were brought to 44 cattle markets across Kerala every week before the protest began.

    The president of the cattle merchants association, K H Kamaludhin, said the merchants had lost 14 truck-loads of animals after being attacked, with each consignment being worth Rs 5.5 lakh.

    “Since our plea to ensure protection for safe transport of cattle was not addressed by the Tamil Nadu government, the merchants decided to go on an indefinite strike,” Kamaludhin said.

    He added that the cattle abducted from the merchants were taken to various private farms near Coimbatore, which is the main entry point to Kerala. Despite getting favourable court orders, traders claimed that they failed to get their cattle released from some farms that demanded huge sums from the merchants.

    The association is slated to meet its counterparts in Tamil Nadu on August 7 to chalk out the future course of action.

    “We want all markets in Tamil Nadu to shut down to express solidarity with our demand. Unless the government ensures safe transportation of slaughter animals, the agitation will continue,’’ the association president said.

    In Kerala, the annual demand of red meat stands at 2.3 lakh metric tonnes (MT). Since cattle are not reared in Kerala to meet the huge demand for beef, the animals are ferried from other states, sometimes illegally.

    Kerala agriculture minister K P Mohanan said the state government had taken up the issue with the home and animal husbandry departments in Tamil Nadu.

    “The Tamil Nadu government agencies have no role in preventing the movement of cattle trucks to Kerala. Certain elements have taken the law into their own hands. We are awaiting a reply from the Tamil Nadu government,” the minister said.

    According to official statistics, Kerala requires 2,500 MT of animals every day to meet the state’s beef demand.

    Around 90 MT of that demand is met by supply from other states.

    Full Story here:

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