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Delta offers real-time tracker for pet shipments

imagesDelta Air Lines will offer what it says is the first pet-tracking device to reassure passengers who are separated from their beloved furry companions during flights.

Beginning this month, Delta passengers traveling with their pets will be able to monitor their pets in real time before and after the flight, including data on the surrounding temperature and whether the animal is right-side up or sitting askew. The gadget was developed by Sendum Wireless Corp. and will be available for $50 per flight from 10 U.S. airports.

“When things go wrong with a pet, it often goes horribly wrong,” said Neel Jones Shah, an airline adviser to Burnaby, British Columbia-based Sendum and former Delta cargo executive.

Take Ty, the American Staffordshire Terrier who escaped from his kennel under Delta’s watch and raced out of the Los Angeles airport in October. The pooch hasn’t been seen since, though he is memorialized through his own Facebook page and his family has petitioned Delta to apologize and take steps to prevent similar events from happening again.

Delta, based in Atlanta, will offer the new GPS-based device at New York’s LaGuardia and nine other airports served by its Delta Cargo unit in Atlanta; Cincinnati; Detroit; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Seattle; Salt Lake City; and Tampa.

Placed on the animal’s crate, the device notes location, ambient temperature and other factors, including how the crate is positioned. If the temperature rises above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius), for example, it will shoot an alert to Delta’s call center, Shah said. The pet owners also can check on their animal’s stats by visiting a website, he said.

A caveat is that the system only sends alerts before and after a flight because restrictions on cellular communications prevent it from sending notices while airborne, Shah said. Still, many of the accidents that cause an animal to go missing or die occur at the airport and not in the air.


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