Airline fined $36K for animal deaths

A federal report on Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations details multiple alleged infractions by a major U.S. airline company that resulted in the deaths of at least 16 animals between 2007 and 2009.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released its monthly "Recent Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act Enforcement Actions" on the APHIS website. The report lists administrative complaints that were filed against alleged violators of the AWA, as well as a list of those who agreed to pay fines to APHIS for alleged violations of the act.
Listed among those who had paid fines for alleged violations was Delta Airlines. The airline paid a fine of $36,563 to APHIS in August. All of the violations listed in the document were related to handling of the animals. According to the settlement agreement:
  • June 11, 2007: 14 of 31 rabbits died en route from Baltimore. Md., to Albuquerque, N.M.
  • May 31, 2008: A Labrador-mix dog died after the airline "failed to shelter the dog from extreme heat" on the way from Sacramento, Calif., to Atlanta, Ga.
  • July 12, 2008: A "southern white" dog being shipped from Columbia, S.C. to Fort Worth, Texas, was found dead in its enclosure in Atlanta, Ga. The report notes that temperatures in Columbia, Fort Worth and Peachtree, Ga., were more than 90 degrees.
  • Feb. 15, 2009: A cat escaped from its kennel and was lost while en route from Baltimore, Md., to Anchorage, Alaska.

    Delta Airlines did not respond to requests for comments before the deadline for this article.

    One of the administrative complaints was against Kaufman, Texas-based animal exhibitionist Terranova Enterprises. The company allegedly let an elephant escape and run along Highway 81 in Enid, Okla., where it was eventually struck and injured by an oncoming SUV.

    APHIS began issuing the monthly reports on enforcement actions in the middle of this year, in response to a federal report that blasted APHIS inspectors for being too lax on AWA offenders. A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) harshly criticized the Animal Care unit of APHIS, saying inspectors took little or no enforcement action against AWA violators over a three year period from 2006-2008.
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