Good news and terrible news, pet owners. The good news is that even if your pet gets lost by an airline, there's a chance that it will be found alive, living in the ventilation ducts months later. The bad news is that once your pet gets found, it might be almost dead. And if your pet's never found, it might be because some asshole stole it and sold it to a lab. There is literally a petpocalypse happening right this minute.
Two months ago, the owner of Jack, a handsome, long haired cat, was bringing her furry companion with her as she relocated from New York to the West Coast. Rather than fly with him in the cabin, she checked him as special luggage. And then, he disappeared from American Airlines' special handling area. A Facebook group sprang up. Now, he's been found scurrying around the airport's ventilation system. Hooray!
Unfortunately, today his owner received some bad news. Jack's got a pretty serious liver condition that causes fat to build up in the organ. Veterinarians say that the kitty has about a 50/50 chance of survival. Even though Jack's teetering on the precipice of death, his owner is flying back (for free) to see him, and once he's healthy, the airline will fly him (for free) to her in California.
But JFK airport isn't the only scheming entity trying to separate you and your fur child. The American Kennel Club estimates that pet thefts have risen 50% in the past year. Often, when people think their pet has escaped from their yard, their animal has actually been deliberately nabbed and then sold to a lab, although regulations around labs acquiring animals from "random sources" has significantly decreased the number of dogs sold to labs since the 1960's.
Some pet thieves in urban areas sell stolen animals to dog fighting rings. Other thieves resell the pets in their neighborhoods and pocket the profits, as purebred animals are valuable on the secondary market.
But don't totally despair; if your pet's lost, there's another alternative: perhaps she ran away to live with the neighbors, like my family's cat Norman did. She wandered into our yard one day as a smallish kitten, stayed for about 10 years, and suddenly, she just left. Weeks later, I saw her sunning herself in the neighbor's driveway, not a care in the world. I walked up to pet her and she ran away. It was like she had soap opera style amnesia. We continued to see her until she was a very old cat, donning the collars that the neighbors had bought her, and then, my parents stopped seeing her. Well I hope she and that other family were very happy together. Remember: if a pet will cheat with you, they'll cheat on you.
Pet Theft Up 50 Percent Since Last Year [AlternaNet]
Jack the Cat May Have Been Found, But He's Got Liver Disease [Gothamist]
Image via Michael Pettigrew/Shutterstock