Travelers who fly with kitty and canine companions will soon get more details about pet deaths or mishaps on commercial flights.
After numerous incidences of animal deaths, injuries and losses, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will require airlines to file a report each time such an event occurs, starting on Jan. 1.
The new regulation applies not only to personal pets, but also any cats or dogs that are transported, such as animals shipped by breeders.
However, the law applies only to domestic carriers with more than 60 seats, and it covers only cats and dogs.
"We are not expanding the definition of 'animal' to cover all species of animals," the DOT states. "We believe it would be unduly burdensome to require covered carriers to report the death, loss or injury of all species of animals because there potentially could be thousands of individual animals such as fish, rodents and insects that are transported by air carriers in a single commercial shipment."
The new rules also require airlines to annually report how many animals they transport in total, providing travelers with a clearer picture of the rate of pet-related incidents.
The DOT estimates that more than 2 million pets and other live animals are transported by air annually in the United States, but currently not all airlines report the number of animals they fly.
It's been reported that Delta has had the most pet deaths of any U.S. airline in recent years, but Delta says it also carries more pets than most airlines.
Delta reported 16 pet deaths in 2010, 19 in 2011, 10 in 2012 and two in 2013.
The number of pet deaths declined on the airline in 2011 when the airline added more restrictions on pet travel after a string of deaths of snub-nosed dog and cat breeds.
Breeds such as pugs and Persian cats are prone to breathing difficulties, and as a result, some airlines don't allow such animals to fly in the cargo hold.
Related on MNN: