Saipan Cares for Animals has joined other animal rescue organizations in the CNMI and Guam in making a push for United Airlines to reopen its PetSafe Pet Transport & Shipping program, which allows the air carrier to transport pets between the Marianas and the U.S. mainland.
In a post on SCA’s Facebook page on Wednesday, it explained why reopening the program is crucial to the CNMI and Guam, detailing the unique and dire struggles of pet owners who make plans to move away and find themselves unable to bring their pets with them.
In normal times, United Airlines’ PetSafe Pet Transport & Shipping program was the most feasible way of ensuring that the pet stays with the family. The airline charged a flat rate that was based on the combined weight of your pet’s crate and the pet itself, coordinated a drop-off between pet owners and United Cargo and, once the pets were accepted, handled the moving process completely. In total, a family would have expected a bill of around $700 from United Airlines.
However, the transport program having been suspended since last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and United Airlines now being Saipan’s sole and primary flight provider, moving away and ensuring that a family’s “fur baby” can travel too is extremely costly and impossible for some.
“The Boonie Flight Project brought [the pet transport issue] to the forefront of our minds,” said SCA assistant director Brooks Travis.
Currently, the Boonie Baby Foundation, which is based in Guam, ships batches of stray puppies it finds around the island to interested adopters living in the United States. The organization works closely with Animal Travel Agent LLC and Tails of Hawaii to work out the logistics of sending animals from Guam to the U.S. mainland.
The Boonie Flight Project remains feasible because it was found that shipping puppies in batches of two per crate was cheaper than shipping a fully-grown animal. Depending on size and weight, it could cost anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000 to ship a fully-grown animal from Guam to the United States.
The $2,000 to $4,000 price tag, however, is the only option right now for pet owners on Saipan that are moving away. And ordering a charter flight from Saipan to Guam for the pet is the only way for these families to obtain the necessary medical records and certifications for their pets.
For families in this situation, all that Travis can recommend is to “start saving.” In SCA’s Facebook post, it said the clinic “receives calls almost every week asking us to accept pets because their family is moving away.”
Travis hopes that United Airlines can reopen PetSafe for the CNMI and Guam, and believes that “people in United will see the importance of reducing strays and keeping families together.”
According to a statement from United Corporate Communications, “United’s PetSafe and military pet transportation continues to remain suspended for the safety of pets until further notice. We understand how important our PetSafe program is to many of our customers, and we continue to monitor the situation. We will provide the latest updates on our PetSafe page.”
The PetSafe page can be found at https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/animals/petsafe.html (Joshua Santos)
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from United Airlines’ Corporate Communications office. A link to United Airlines’ PetSafe program has also been included in the story.