Airline travel just got a little better for your four-legged family members.
When pet owners travel with their dogs, there's always a measure of stress involved. Pet airline travel is a highly regulated process designed to make the dog's journey as safe and comfortable as feasibly possible. There are restrictions on the kind of crates used, and outside temperature is closely monitored for planes without climate-controlled cargo areas. A recent requirement also states that airports must have indoor "relief areas."
Even with these precautions, air travel is often stressful and scary for both the dogs and their humans. But JFK airport just made a $65 million investment to change that. The Ark at JFK is a 178,000-square-foot facility complete with overnight kennels, splash pool, and pre-flight microchipping services. An in-house pet spa is also in the works.
The goal is to give pet owners peace of mind in cases of missed connecting flights. In the event that a pet is traveling without its owner and misses a flight or its flight is delayed, airports have protocol in place to care for the animals. Their basic needs are met, but the designated areas leave much to be desired.
But not at the Ark. As the first facility of its kind, the Ark is streamlining pet air travel. In addition to caring for the pet, their personnel also help with traveling details. They take the animals through customs and get them through boarding.
"It can be one of those close calls, where a pet owner can get off a flight, get to the cargo facility, go to customs and border control, and do it all themselves. It's a big hassle."
The Ark provides for the animals in order to simplify the airport experience. Schuette says;
"It's changing the process and advocating for a better one."
Their "Pet Oasis" accommodation is available to dogs and cats, and a future equine section will have stables for traveling race horses and show horses. An Ark Aviary will also open in a few months.
Schuette wants pet owners to know their team of trained veterinarians and animal professionals is dedicated to the safety and well-being of the animals in their care. But her current challenge is convincing pet owners and airlines that the services provided by the Ark aren't extravagant. They cater to basic needs to make traveling with pets easier for both humans and animals. She said:
"We're going to these airlines and meeting with them, and talking to them about what's the best treatment for these animals."
The Ark is brand new, but if it succeeds, the idea is expected to spread to other airports across the country.
What do you think about the Ark? Let us know in the comments.
Images via Facebook/The ARK at JFK
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