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Purchasing a Labrador

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Canine Legislature

Pamela A. Davol, 76 Mildred Avenue, Swansea, MA  02777-1620.

Shipping Dogs and Puppies:

How To Turn A Potential Nightmare Into A Story With A Happy Ending

Everyone has heard the terrifying stories of dogs and puppies becoming lost, misplaced, injured, or ill during airline shipping. Any breeder who ships their dogs, whether it be nationally or internationally, will probably at some point have a "bad experience" with an airline. Many times, however, taking appropriate precautions prior to and during shipping may help to minimize the risks associated with shipping any animal. The following provides some information on procedures for shipping, as well as recommendations for minimizing problems associated with shipping animals.

Why ship?

When breeding for quality, a breeder will not always find the perfect male to complement his bitch within a short driving distance from his home. Though collection of semen and artificial insemination offer an alternative to shipping a bitch across the country to the stud, costs for "do-it-yourself" semen-collection- kits can be high and add additional expense to stud fees. Alternatively, it is not always easy to find a local veterinarian with the experience to successfully collect and preserve semen or with enough experience to achieve a successful artificial insemination. For these reasons, some breeders depend on shipping for continuation of their breeding program.

For prospective puppy owners, it is not always easy to find a reputable breeder or one who is breeding the specific "type" for which an individual may be searching within a reasonable driving distance. Shipping increases a person's chances of acquiring the quality they are hoping to find.

What are the requirements for shipping?

A dog must be at least 8 weeks old for shipping and must be examined by and receive a health certificate from a veterinarian within 10 days of the date of shipping. Additionally, some states and foreign countries require a rabies vaccine certificate. An airline approved crate (Vari-kennel type--no wire cages) that has enough room for the dog to stand and turn around will be required for shipping (medium-sized Vari-kennels for shipping Labrador puppies from 8-16 weeks; large-sized Vari-kennel for older puppies and adults). Some carrier services have weight restrictions. For example, Delta Dash will only ship dogs if the combined weight of the dog and the crate does not exceed 70 pounds; above 70 pounds, the dog and crate must be shipped freight.

What is the best way to ship a puppy or a dog?

Dash service provided by Delta airlines (Delta Dash) offers counter-to-counter delivery services for animals. In such a case, animals are dropped off at the Delta Dash office, are personally transported to the plane by a cargo person, and then upon arriving at their destination, are personally transported to the Delta Dash office or baggage office. Additionally, Dash services offer faster deliveries with fewer and shorter lay-overs.

Unfortunately, because of the personalized handling (carry-on/carry-off) associated with Delta Dash, animals weighing over 70 pounds (weight of crate included) are not eligible for shipping by Dash services. Under these circumstances, shipping by freight is the alternative. In this instance, a dog is either dropped off at the airline cargo facility or at the airline baggage counter. The animal is handled as other passenger baggage (hopefully with a little more care than given to the average piece of luggage) in that it is driven out to the plane on a baggage transport. Because of the potential for more frequent and long layovers, temperature restrictions often apply.

At Wing-N-Wave, we have shipped puppies and dogs by both methods, however, whenever possible, Delta Dash is the preferred method for transporting our dogs.

What are some problems associated with shipping?

I have been shipping Labradors since 1990, however, in that time I have only shipped about 10 puppies and dogs combined. I have only encountered one potential problem, which never really became a problem mainly due to what I believe were certain precautions which I took. During this particular incident, I was actually traveling with two puppies which I was bringing back from Alberta, Canada on United airlines. Unfortunately, the puppies and I had to change airplanes twice, once in Spokane and then again in Chicago. When I got off the plane in Spokane, I immediately went to the ticket person at the exit of the boarding ramp and said.. "Hi, I have two puppies which are traveling with me on this flight which just arrived. I need to be sure that they get off this plane and onto my connecting flight number such-n-such. Could you please contact someone from baggage and make them aware of this?" Then I stood there and made sure that the person got on his little walkie-talkie with someone down in baggage. Well, surprise! The baggage person didn't know there were puppies on board, nor did they know that they were suppose to be put on a connecting flight. In fact, it took the baggage person about 15 minutes to locate my little ones because they had been put in the wrong baggage section of the plane. Whew! Talk about a close call. They would have been on their way to Los Angeles. Then I went to my connecting flight's boarding ramp and said to the ticket person there..."Hi, I'm traveling with two puppies and I want to confirm that they have been transferred to this flight from flight number such-n-such." No problem. Mr. Ticket person got on his walkie-talkie and then reported that "Yes, the puppies have been placed on this flight." Then and only then did I board the aircraft. Well, due to a storm over Chicago, my flight pulled in about 5 min before my connecting flight was scheduled to depart. Luckily, the connecting flight was just across the hallway. I ran down the boarding ramp. This time I didn't bother to stop at the ticket collection counter from my arriving flight but went immediately to Ms. Ticket person at the connecting flight's boarding ramp and spilled my story. She got on her walkie-talkie and verified that the puppies were being boarded on the connecting flight at that moment. Whew! We all arrived in Providence safely.

Suggestions when shipping

Tips for when the dog is traveling alone:

Tips when traveling with your dog:

Other tips to remember:

Information on Delta's New Travel Program for Pets (which has replaced Delta Dash for live animal transport):

Delta's Pets First Travel Program

For up-to-date information on the current airline dog-embargo please visit the AKC Canine Legislation pages:


"AKC Opposes Airline Restrictions" in Taking Command-August 2000: The AKC Canine Legislation Newsletter

"PET TRAVEL COMPROMISE REACHED BY CONGRESS" in Taking Command-April 2000: The AKC Canine Legislation Newsletter

For alternative services for shipping dogs visit the following on-line site:


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'Copyright 1997 Pamela A. Davol'