SWA: Allow rescued puppies on flights from Turks & Caicos

SWA: Allow rescued puppies on flights from Turks & Caicos

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Melissa Corradetti started this petition to Southwest Airlines and

In November 2017, Southwest Airlines began service to Providenciales, Turks & Caicos.  However, unlike all other American and Canadian airlines (JetBlue, American, Delta, United, WestJet, AirCanada), that provide service to the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), Southwest Airlines does NOT allow pets in cabin on international flights.

In June of 2018, I traveled to Grace Bay in the TCI for a vacation.  A popular activity in Grace Bay is to walk rescued puppies on the most beautiful beach in the world.  The puppies, called “potcakes,” because they are typically fed leftover rice and peas from the bottom of the cooking pot by residents, are the traditional village dogs of the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos Islands.  Potcake Place K-9 Rescue, in Providenciales, enlists the help of tourists to socialize the puppies they rescue, preparing them for life in a forever home.  Naturally, many people fall in love with these potcake puppies and want to adopt them, thereby helping to reduce the number of homeless potcakes on the island.

I, too, fell in love with a sweet potcake puppy named Onyx (now Luca), and was disheartened to learn that in order to adopt that puppy and bring him home with me, I would have to change my itinerary, because Southwest policy clearly states, “Pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin on international flights or any itinerary that includes an international flight.”  Consequently, I immediately cancelled my Southwest flight, and booked a one-way ticket with American Airlines. 

Later, I found the following explanation online:  “Most countries have animal health regulations that require certain health conditions to be met before an animal can be legally admitted to the country.  As a result, we made a business decision not to accept pets on international itineraries.” – Lindsey, Community Manager, The Southwest Airlines Community, October 2016.

HOWEVER:

On January 31, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Federal Register Notice (FRN), detailing guidance regarding “rabies-free” countries and importing a dog into the United States. (https://www.cdc.gov/importation/laws-and-regulations/rabies-free-countries.html)

o   According to this guidance, dogs from countries assessed as not having CRVV (canine rabies virus variant) present, based on internationally accepted standards, are considered rabies-free and therefore no rabies vaccination certificate is required.

o  The CDC guidance does not identify the Turks & Caicos Islands as having CRVV, and, furthermore TCI is not on the list of countries requiring a rabies vaccine. (https://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/rabies-vaccine.html)

o   In addition, rescued dogs from the Turks & Caicos Islands leave with a current medical record and valid health certificate.  Pending inspection upon arrival in the U.S.,  these rescued puppies meet the requirements set forth in 42 CFR 71.51, thus making them eligible for legal importation into the United States. (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2018-title42-vol1/xml/CFR-2018-title42-vol1-sec71-51.xml)

In light of this updated HHS guidance regarding importing dogs from rabies-free countries into the United States, it would seem reasonable to request that Southwest review its current policy prohibiting animals in-cabin on international flights, and consider allowing pets in-cabin on flights originating in the Turks & Caicos Islands.

By continuing its current policy, Southwest Airlines stands alone in preventing adopters and couriers from providing homes to these homeless puppies. Many potcake supporters will not fly Southwest when visiting Turks & Caicos for this reason.  Thus, in addition to losing fares and loyal passengers on this route, Southwest is also losing out on an opportunity to help make a difference in the stray dog population in Turks & Caicos.  In fact, the current policy seems inconsistent with Southwest’s highly regarded culture of connecting people to what’s important in their lives and being a good citizen in the community.

Help us convince Southwest Airlines to change its policy and allow pets on flights from the Turks & Caicos Islands to the United States.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!