WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. airline passengers who travel with their pets will have access to more information about a carrier's animal-safety record under regulations announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Transportation Department.
The new rule expands the number of U.S. airlines that must report on animals that were lost, injured or died during transport to 27 from the current 14, pulling in several smaller carriers.
The rules, which go into effect on Jan. 1, will for the first time include commercial shipments of dogs and cats, such as those by breeders, not just those by pet owners.
Animal rights groups had wanted more animals than just dogs and cats to be covered by the reporting requirements for commercial shipments, but the department said it would be "unduly burdensome" to require airlines to report the death, loss and injury of all species that are transported.
Airlines will also be required to file a yearly report that includes the total number of animals transported as well as how many were lost, injured or died. Currently, airlines must file monthly reports and they don't include the total number of animals transported.
"This rule will provide consumers with a fuller picture of an airline's safety record when it comes to transporting animals," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "Consumers deserve clear and accurate information when choosing among air transportation options," he said.
Government figures show 122 dogs died while being transported by their owners as cargo from May 2005 to May 2010.
Short-faced breeds like bulldogs and pugs accounted for almost half of those deaths. During the same period there were 22 deaths of other pets, and another 88 pets lost or injured.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Ros Krasny and Phil Berlowitz)