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Category: Traveling with Pets

Experts warn about the dangers of driving with unrestrained pets in the car

Dog riding in the front seat

Man's best friend is not a driver's best friend.

While lawmakers have been banning drivers from texting or using cellphones, many motorists are riding around with another dangerous risk -- their dogs.

Experts say an unrestrained dog -- whether curled up on a lap, hanging out the window or resting its paws on the steering wheel -- can be deadly. Tens of thousands of car accidents are believed caused every year by unrestrained pets, though no one has solid numbers.

"An unrestrained pet can be hugely distracting -- if he is seeking your attention, putting his face right in front of yours, starts chewing up the upholstery or is vomiting because he is carsick," said Katherine Miller, director of applied science and research for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The issue is drawing attention in some statehouses. Hawaii is the only state that specifically forbids drivers from operating a vehicle with a pet on their lap. But Oregon lawmakers are considering fining drivers who hold their pets behind the wheel. And some cities are taking action, too.

In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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US Airways flight makes unexpected stop after dog bites passenger, flight attendant

PITTSBURGH — A dog accompanying an elderly New Jersey woman on a US Airways flight to Phoenix became agitated and bit a passenger and a flight attendant Monday, forcing the pilot to make an unexpected stop in Pittsburgh.

The 12-pound Manchester terrier named Mandy was riding in an approved carrier on Flight 522 from Newark, N.J., airline and local authorities said. The dog's 89-year-old owner was one of 122 passengers and five crew members aboard.

The dog bit a passenger who tried to calm it and then broke out of its cage, officials said. The animal then ran up the plane's aisle and bit a flight attendant who tried to grab it.

The bites were not severe, but the pilot landed the plane as a precaution, US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said.

"We allow pets in the cabin as long as they are in an approved container and under the seat in the carrier," Lehmacher said.

The flight resumed without the woman and her dog and landed in Phoenix hours later. The woman, whose name was not released, spoke with authorities in Pittsburgh before boarding a different flight to Phoenix with her dog.

RELATED NEWS ABOUT ANIMALS AND TRAVEL:

-- Associated Press

Walt Disney World Resort opens luxury pet hotel for animal-loving travelers

Travelers with pets have a new option when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The park's new Best Friends Pet Care facility bills itself as a "luxury pet resort," with amenities including a 25,000-square-foot dog park, a water park for dogs, orthopedic beds, TVs and bedtime stories.

The facility opened Sept. 1, and reservations have been filling up fast -- VIP pet suites are already sold out for every weekend over the next few months. It can accomodate up to 270 dogs and 30 cats.

The "hotel" accepts dogs, cats and "pocket pets" -- but it does stipulate that venemous snakes aren't allowed. (That one seems like kind of a no-brainer.) It also offers grooming and dog training services.

Pets can check in for day care while their families are visiting the resort or stay overnight. Day care services run from $16 to $46 for up to six hours; overnight boarding for dogs starts at $37 per night (a 225-square-foot VIP Luxury Suite will set you back $79 per night); overnight boarding for cats starts at $23 per night; and overnight boarding for small animals starts at $12 per night. Disney resort guests receive a discount on day care and boarding services.

Reservations can be made by phone at (877) 4-WDW-PETS. Pet owners should be prepared to bring or fax their animal's vaccination records.

Learn more about Walt Disney World's pet hotel at The Times' Daily Travel & Deal Blog.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Disney Parks

Cape Cod town rolls out the pooch welcome mat, making it the most dog-friendly town in the U.S.

Arnold, a 12-pound white poodle, prances around Provincetown like he owns it.

He kind of does.

Like many of the canines here, Arnold has his own following. The town, which lies at the tip of Cape Cod, is known for its love of dogs, and the numbers prove it: About one out of every five residents has one.

"They've made a pretty concerted effort there to be the ultimate canine resort," said Ernie Slone, the editor of Dog Fancy magazine, which recently voted Provincetown "DogTown USA."

The locale beat out 94 other entries in the annual competition, which evaluates cities based on the number of dog-friendly open spaces and dog parks, events celebrating dogs and their owners, available veterinary care and laws that support pets. Carmel came in second, and three other California cities, Benicia, Ft. Bragg and San Diego, were in the top 10.

But what sets Provincetown apart, people here say, is its ingrained dog culture. Dogs like Arnold can accompany owners into the bank and post office, and they can dine on the patios of a variety of restaurants. In shops, dogs are put to work greeting visitors.

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Heat 'may have been a factor' in deaths of puppies following American Airlines flight

American Airlines planes

FORT WORTH — Heat might have killed seven puppies that died in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet this month.

American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said Tuesday that necropsies on the puppies were inconclusive but found that heat "may have been a factor."

The puppies died soon after the flight from Tulsa, Okla., landed in Chicago on Aug. 3. Cargo handlers in Chicago noticed they were lethargic and took them to a veterinarian's office.

Fagan said the flight complied with company policy that prohibits shipping animals when outside ground temperatures exceed 85 degrees.

The National Weather Service recorded 86 degrees in Tulsa while the plane, which was delayed from taking off for an hour, was still on the ground at 8 a.m. But American relies on temperatures reported by The Weather Channel's website, and Fagan said those readings "at loading, pushback, take-off and arrival" were within the 85-degree limit.

Fagan also said the puppies that died might have had other health problems because 17 other dogs survived the same flight. The seven who died were among 14 puppies put on the plane by a shipper that the airline declined to identify.

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Family recovers turtle kicked off AirTran flight

Turtle1 ATLANTA — A caged, 2-inch turtle traveling with a 10-year-old girl caused a crew to turn around a taxiing plane, take the girl and her sisters off the flight and tell them they couldn't bring their pet along.

The sisters threw the animal and cage in the trash and returned to their seats crying Tuesday after AirTran Airways employees on the jetway said they couldn't care for the turtle while their father drove to retrieve it. Two days later, however, Carley Helm was reunited with Neytiri even though at first the family thought the pet was emptied with the trash.

Carley was heading home to Milwaukee after visiting her father in Atlanta with sisters Annie, 13, and Rebecca, 22, when the flap unfolded.

Rebecca said the three were led onto the jetway and told they'd have to get rid of the baby red-eared slider -- named Neytiri after the princess in the movie "Avatar" -- if they wanted to reboard.

"I asked, 'What do you mean get rid of it?' and they said throw it away," she said. "I was very sad, and I felt bad for my littlest sister because it was her first pet and she was planning to take care of it herself."

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John Travolta's dogs killed in airport mishap; airline offers credit for loss of Canadian couple's dog

TravoltaSad news: Two small dogs belonging to actor John Travolta and his family were killed in an accident at Maine's Bangor International Airport last week.

The Travoltas, dogs in tow, reportedly landed at the airport about 1 a.m. May 13. An unidentified person, described as "someone who is not a family member" in a statement released by the city confirming the accident, was walking the dogs from the tarmac to a nearby grassy area when they were struck by an airport service truck whose driver failed to see them. The dogs were both on leashes when they were hit, according to the Associated Press.

The airport is investigating the accident, the Bangor Daily News reported Tuesday. It's unclear whether the driver, who has not been named, will face charges or disciplinary action. The person walking the dogs was not injured.

Airport mishaps involving dogs have been a hot topic in recent weeks; the Travolta incident was preceded by one in which a dog was lost while in the care of Delta Airlines staff members in the Mexico City airport.

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Frontier Airlines joins the list of carriers that allow small pets to ride in airplane cabins

Frontier Airlines planes

DENVER -- Frontier Airlines says it will let customers carry small pets on board, but it will cost more than some of the fares that Frontier charges its two-legged passengers.

The airline said Wednesday it would let passengers bring along their small dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters or small birds for $75 each way.

That matches the price charged by another low-fare carrier, Southwest Airlines, which began allowing customers to bring small pets on board last year.

According to its website, Frontier charges less for some tickets for people, including travel between Denver and Albuquerque, N.M., or between Milwaukee and Indianapolis or Kansas City.

The pets must fit in a carrier that goes under an airplane seat and must have proper health documentation. Spokeswoman Lindsey Purves said customers should have their veterinarian complete a health form for the animal within 10 days of the trip.

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WebClawer: Agency sides with allergy sufferers over pets on planes; PETA agrees with chef on cat stew; Tim Burton hates cats; Kobe Bryant is like a beaver?

Chipper Kobe

-- How is Lakers star Kobe Bryant like an animal? Let us count the ways. After missing five games due to injury, Bryant said Monday that he felt "like a gazelle" about his return to play. That got Lakers blogger Mark Medina wondering what other species Kobe, who's often described as "the black mamba" after a type of snake, might resemble. Los Angeles Zoo staffers Jason Jacobs and Dana Brown were happy to oblige Medina with their picks for other zoo dwellers with traits in common with Bryant. Among the animals they noted: beavers. "When I think about his work ethic, I think about all of these roles that he plays up to and including of masking his injuries and being there for his teammates and all the preparation he puts in practice and in games," Brown said. Jacobs and Brown also compare Bryant to a pronghorn, among other species. (Lakers Blog)

-- When Canada's largest airline, Air Canada, changed its pet policy to allow small animals to ride in airplane cabins, many pet owners were thrilled. Allergy sufferers? Not so much. Back in July, the Canadian Lung Assn. took aim at the pet policies of Air Canada and the country's next-largest airline, WestJet, which has a similar pet policy, arguing that "inside the small, confined space of an airplane passenger cabin, [dogs and cats] can pose a serious threat to the health of vulnerable people." Thursday, the Canadian Transportation Agency released a decision that seems to be in agreement with the Canadian Lung Assn.'s position. The decision stated that three people with cat allergies who complained about the airlines' policies can be considered people with disabilities -- seemingly a victory for the anti-animals-in-airplane-cabins camp. The decision doesn't overturn Air Canada's and WestJet's policies, but it does mean that the transportation agency will review the issue of pets in the cabin. It's also asked the two airlines to come up with alternate strategies for accommodating both allergy sufferers and jet-setting animals. (The Canadian Press)

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French hotel lets guests live like hamsters for a night

Hamster-hotel-wheel France has all the ingredients for a romantic getaway. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the smell of fresh baguettes and wine ... Hamsters. 

Treat your special someone to a night of amour at the Hamster Villa in Nantes, France.

Guests dress up in rodent costumes and spend the night roaming the people-sized re-creation of a cozy hamster cage.  Amenities include a human-sized hamster wheel, readily available grain for snacking, floor space for hamster dancing, and a hay bed for sleeping and, if all goes well, breeding.

Check out the Reuters video for a slightly disturbing walk-through of the hotel.

-- Mark Milian (Follow on Twitter @markmilian)

Photo: Stephane Mahe / Reuters

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