The WOOFF Act (Welfare of Our Furry Friends), was recently introduced to Congress with a goal of creating regulations that will keep pets safe during airline flights. More formally known as the S.2556 Act, the WOOFF Act prohibits putting live animals in overhead plane compartments. 

While it may seem obvious that live animals shouldn’t be kept in small enclosed spaces without proper air circulation, it’s currently not against the law to do so.

Why the WOOFF Act?

The reason why the WOOFF Act was initiated is due to the recent death of a family pet on United Airlines. The family pet was a young French bulldog that was put into a carrier that was then placed in the overhead storage area above the family’s seats. The airlines stated it was an accident, so the Act aims to prevent any potential future accidents. 

While United Airlines did promise that they would put brightly colored tags on pet carriers in the future so that this avoidable incident doesn’t happen again, lawmakers stated that this simply isn’t enough. They decided that because of the incident there needs to be a law where animals, our pets, are fully protected when flying on airplanes and not treated like just another piece of luggage.

Lawmakers Taking Action

Senators John Kennedy and Catherine Cortez Masto are responsible for submitting the legislation that will make it against the law to put animals in overhead airplane compartments. They officially introduced the WOOFF Act into Congress on March 15. The act is currently in bill form and is directed towards the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. It will be overseen by a committee for submission to the senate for approval. 

There are currently two parts to the submitted legislation. The first part of the bill asks that there be new airline regulations that strictly prohibit the storage of any live animals in a contained overhead compartment when flying in an airplane in order to protect the health and welfare of the animals. The second part of the WOOFF Act asks that there be fines established for those who are found to be violating the Act. 

New Focus on Transporting Animals

The new focus on animals being mishandled when traveling on airlines has also prompted a worldwide airline group to create a program. The International Air Transport Association is stepping up by focusing on the quality of cargo shipments, which is how injured, lost or dead animals are tracked. It requires certain standards to be in place that support the safety and welfare of any animal that’s being transported by airplane. 

Pets are Family 

Hundreds of thousands of animals are transported every year on airplanes. Last year it was reported that 24 animals died during the transportation process. While this is a small percentage, the number of deaths should be zero. Union Lake Veterinary Hospital believes pets are family members and they should be treated with the greatest care.

The latest information on the WOOFF Act can be found here for those who are keeping up with its progress.