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Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Airports Offer Relief for You and Your Pet…

Areas offer on-the-go travelers options to let their four-legged friends ‘go’

El Paso International Airport_Future Pet Area

Workers clean up the pet-relief area outside El Paso International Airport.

No bones about it, we’re a pet crazy country.

Need proof? According to the American Pet Products Association’s most recent survey, 62 percent of American households own a pet. And, if the rise in pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, theme-parks and tourist attractions is any measure, many of those pets get to tag along when their owners head out on the road.

When those trips involve airports, though, things can get rough long before the flight leaves the ground. That’s because while every airport has plenty of well-marked restrooms for people, not every airport offers areas for pets to find relief.

Those that do can really make a difference, says Kathy McCabe, publisher of an online travel newsletter. “I have an 11-year old wire fox terrier and know that travel can make many dogs nervous and anxious,” she said. “When they feel this way, they sometimes need to ‘go’ more often than usual. So it’s nice to be able to give a dog a break before getting on board the plane.”

To that end, airports in Phoenix, Austin, Salt Lake City and a number of other cities have had easy-to-find pet relief areas for years. However, in many other airports, travelers have had difficulty sniffing out appropriate or accessible places for their pooches to go.

But now, thanks to a new Department of Transportation regulation designed with service animals in mind, all travelers are finding it easier than ever to take their pets along for the ride.

The letter of the law
In May 2008, the Transportation Department gave airlines a year to comply with new rules requiring accessible relief areas, and escorts to those relief areas, for passengers traveling with service animals at each airport a carrier serves. DOT didn’t say how to make this happen, but James Briggs, vice-president for legal affairs at the airport membership organization ACI-NA, says airlines were instructed to buddy up with airports in each city to work things out.

In general, it seems they have. New — and newly improved — pet-relief areas have been popping up at airports all over the country.  In part, these pet-relief parks are part of a trend to improve customer service. But the amenity also helps airlines and airports comply with the new rules.

Last June, for example, Philadelphia International Airport unveiled seven relief stations on the departures road and outside baggage claim. Described as a new service for all passengers with pets in tow, press releases also noted that the “pet ports” were recommended by the airport’s American’s with Disabilities Act Review Committee.

Additionally, Boston Logan International, Oakland International and Tucson International have recently opened brand new pet-relief areas.

Traveler Jenny Wedge says that while the new pet-relief area at John Wayne Airport in Orange County is small, “it does the trick and is ironically the same area where we used to have some planters where animals would relieve themselves anyway. Now we have an area clearly meant for animals that has a nice white picket fence, a fire hydrant and Astroturf.”

McCarran International in Las Vegas, which already had three relief areas, recently spent about $5,000 improving those spaces, adding chain-link fences, pea gravel and dog waste bag dispensers.

Miami International spent about $40,000 to build two pet parks, each with a bench for people and a fire hydrant for pets. (When the north terminal is complete, a third relief area will built.)

El Paso International recently opened its pet-relief area, which was built with recyclable materials salvaged from prior terminal projects.

Relief areas at Minneapolis-St. Paul International have not changed. However, the airport has “formalized arrangements with the airlines and with the Travelers Assistance program managers to ensure that disabled travelers who need access to those areas receive an escort to and from the pet-relief facility,” said Patrick Hogan, director of public affairs and marketing.

Relief landside and airside
Nearly every airport pet-relief area is located curbside, outside the secure areas. In response to the new law, though, some airports created, or are working on creating, relief areas on the secure side of the airport, eliminating the need to escort travelers with service animals back through security and providing convenient relief areas for travelers with short connection times.

Seattle-Tacoma International, Salt Lake City International and Fresno Yosemite International have already created post-security pet relief areas, although only people with service animals can access those areas in Salt Lake City.

And Detroit Metropolitan Airport is working with Delta to create a post-security relief area in the McNamara Terminal. “Our thinking,” says the Scott Wintner, a public affairs specialist, “is that since that terminal is Delta’s second-largest hub facility, and since a majority of customers using that terminal are connecting, it makes sense to have the relief area airside.”

While Delta and the Detroit Metro work that out, other airlines are working with airports nationwide to make sure pet-relief areas are open for pets do to their business.

An American Airlines spokesperson said that company is confident it is in compliance at all U.S. airports.

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson says their local “station leaders” are working airport-by-airport to ensure there are pet-relief areas where they serve.

And at Alaska Airlines, customer advocacy director Ray Prentice conducted a survey of every airport the airline serves and put together a detailed chart noting the location of each pet-relief area.

What a relief!

By Harriet Baskas
Travel Writing Contributor – MSNBC
Posted:  Just One More Pet
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June 12, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

THE GAY PENGUIN STORY – BILL O’REILLY AND DENNIS MILLER DIDN’T MAKE UP

Sometimes  you  just  have  to  laugh…

Oreillymiller

Never mind they get the story wrong (the gay penguins hatched a chick — it was in 2005 that the same zoo imported female penguins to see if its gay male pairs would go straight), what’s more important to O’Reilly and Miller is that the story gives them a chance to hoot at one another over lame “tight T-shirt” and “pre-colored egg” jokes. And don’t forget the pre-op transsexuals. Always good for a laugh.  And we all need to laugh…

Gay Penguin Dads in German Zoo Hatch Their First Chick

PenguinsZ and Vielpunkt, two male Humboldt penguins at Germany’s Bremerhaven Zoo, are the proud new parents of a healthy penguin chick.

“Another couple threw the egg out of their batch. We picked it up and put it in the nest of the gay penguins,” veterinarian Joachim Schöne told the German newspaper Bild of the pair’s entry into parenthood. Z and Vielpunkt faithfully cared for their adopted egg for more than a month; in late April it hatched.  Since then, they’ve been taking care of their chick around the clock; it’s still too young to feed itself, so the dads feed him fish mash, Schöne explained.

“Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do,” the zoo said in a statement.

The Bremerhaven Zoo’s same-sex penguin couples (there are three such pairs in residence there, all males) first made news back in 2005, according to the BBC.  At the time, the zoo announced plans to “test” the sexual orientations of the six penguins, who’d been seen engaging in mating rituals and trying to incubate rocks as if they were eggs.  Gay rights advocates were outraged when the zoo brought four new female penguins into the colony in a bid to encourage the penguins to reproduce, and the zoo later nixed the idea.  (In the zoo’s defense, Humboldt penguins are classified as vulnerable to extinction, so it does make a certain amount of sense to be concerned about them reproducing.  And since Z and Vielpunkt have done just that, everyone wins!)

PenguinZ and Vielpunkt aren’t the first same-sex penguin pair to successfully care for a chick.  Another such couple were male chinstrap penguin residents of New York’s Central Park Zoo named Roy and Silo.  Roy and Silo, much like the Bremerhaven penguins, were so anxious to hatch an egg that they tried incubating a rock. They were eventually given an “orphaned” fertile egg and successfully raised a female chick named Tango.

Another male penguin couple were removed from their colony in a Chinese zoo last year when they repeatedly tried to steal eggs from male-and-female pairs.  (In a rather ingenious move, they actually replaced the eggs they were stealing with rocks.)  But visitors complained when the penguins were removed, and eventually they were given two eggs of their own.  Since then, a keeper told the Daily Mail, “they’ve turned out to be the best parents in the whole zoo.”

–Lindsay Barnett

Top photo: Z and Vielpunkt in their enclosure

Credit: Carmen Jaspersen / European Pressphoto Agency

Bottom photo: The couple’s chick, who has not been named and whose sex is still unknown

Credit: Carmen Jaspersen / European Pressphoto Agency

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June 12, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Animals Adopting Animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment