How Not To Travel With Cats

Couple Charged With Animal Cruelty for Packing Their Kitten in Checked Luggage

By Si Si Penaloza

Who thinks putting an animal in checked luggage is okay?

A couple in Florida apparently. The pair has been charged with animal cruelty for stowing their young cat in a piece of checked luggage while traveling through Erie International Airport in Pennsylvania on New Year’s Day. Olivia Sari and Nicholas Larrison, both 21, were heading home to Tampa, Florida after the Christmas holidays when their six-month-old cat, named Slim, was found stowed in a piece of luggage filled with clothes and other items. The airport baggage inspection system alerted Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials that the bag required extra checks, reports the Erie Times-News. Staff opened the bag to find the feline inside.

Ian Bogle, the airport’s director of public safety and facilities, called it “a poor decision made on the customers’ part,” according to Erie Times-News.The couple was charged with transporting animals in a cruel manner, specifically since the cat was placed inside the bag “without food, water or air.” The good news is, Slim has been transferred to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania, where we hope the cat will be placed in a stable new home after his ordeal.

How we think cats should travel!

Swift justice for Slim.

The passengers were caught red handed trying to cram their live cat in with their checked luggage. We applaud that charges were laid swiftly and Slim is on his way to a more secure home. We have heard about smuggling baby tigers in luggage in Thailand, and as disgraceful as that is, that’s clear criminal poaching – exploitation of animals for financial gain. A tad easier to wrap one’s head around, desperate or greedy people do unspeakable things to survive or thrive. This case involves a couple and presumably their pet, a kitten that they likely think they love. So is there just not enough education and awareness about traveling with pets? We think not, this happened in 2017 and pet research is an Alexa query away. Me thinks this is a case of laziness, frugality or Millennial we-didn’t-think-ahead-let’s-just-wing-it throw caution to the wind-itis.

Bogle told the Erie Times-News that each airline has its own system for flying with pets; packing an animal into a piece of checked luggage “is not the recommended way,” he said.

The pair faces fines for “transporting animals in a cruel manner” and packing the cat “without food, air or water” according to police. Sari and Larrison have not yet entered pleas to the charges.

Airports may have slightly different policies for transporting pets, however most standards are similar across the country. In general, airlines becoming more and more accommodating to pet owners who properly prepare their pets for flights and research airline policies. As the Humane Society notes, air travel can be stressful for animals — cats especially aren’t often thrilled to leave home — so put your pet’s needs first when travel planning.

Some cats hate all travel.

Sari and Larrison aren’t even the worst recent offenders for animal cruelty in Florida. Another Florida couple arrested on felony animal cruelty charges back in August 2017. The shocking bit of it is- one of the pair is a veterinarian, arrested after horses and dogs found emaciated, living in squalor. Dogs were living in cages without water, including one with untreated tumors. Another dog underfed into being little more than skin over skeleton. Horses with hooves so overgrown, they appeared to be walking on golf clubs.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dr. Gail Nichols, 66, and husband Paul Smith, 74, on three counts felony animal cruelty, one count misdemeanor animal cruelty, and five counts confinement of animals without sufficient food, water, or shelter. Deputies also seized three full-sized horses, eight dogs and 28 miniature horses from the property. The home was without air conditioning and uninhabitable for humans.

How all pets should live!

Earlier in June 2017, yet another Florida couple was arrested, 36 dogs seized in a ‘most horrific’ animal abuse case, according to local law enforcement. The dogs were seized from a Citrus County home after Crime Stoppers received an anonymous tip about animal abuse. Ryan McLean, 26, and Deana Feldman, 47, were arrested after failing to provide a suitable living environment for their 36 dogs, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said.

“This tip ultimately turned out to be one of the most horrific cases we’ve worked,” Lora Peckham, supervisor of the Citrus County Animal Control Unit, said. The animals were “living among piles of their own feces” and the house was flea-infested, according to WFTS, the primary ABC affiliate for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota area. “There were dogs with more than a quarter pound of feces caked onto their little bodies and these are 4-pound to 6-pound dogs,” Peckham told WFTS.

Almost all the animals needed medical attention, but ultimately survived, according to the sheriff’s office. McLean and Feldman each face one count of felony animal cruelty and 27 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

We just cannot wrap our heads around these types of abuses against innocent creatures.