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jack the cat missingWhen the cat’s away, its owner will worry — as American Airlines discovered after a kitty named Jack mysteriously vanished at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday. Jack went missing from the baggage claim area shortly after his owner, Karen Pascoe, checked him and another cat in for a flight to California with AA.

According to Pascoe, when she last saw her cats, an American Airlines employee was putting plastic ties around the kennel door. After she went through security, she got a call from AA to tell her that Jack was gone. Pascoe helped with the search for more than an hour before leaving on a later flight, assured that AA would keep looking for her cat. Days later, Jack is still missing — and no one can tell her how he escaped.

The search has spawned a Facebook page, Jack The Cat is Lost in AA Baggage at JFK, which has more than 9,000 feline-loving fans as of this writing. Many have chimed in with messages of support (“He looks like a wonderful fellow. Hope he’s found safe and well,” writes Laurie Mayer), while others have directed vitriol at American Airlines for, well, letting the cat out of the bag. “AA would not want to deal with my wrath if they lost one of my cats,” writes Stacy Spieker. “I hope, Jack, you are found safe and unharmed. Shame on AA. There is NOOOOOO excuse!!!”

5 Travel Ideas for Pet Lovers

American Airlines has responded to the torrent of bad publicity by posting updates on its own Facebook page about its efforts to recover Jack. To name a few: Humane traps have been set, footage from CCTV cameras in the baggage claim area is being studied and Pascoe will be flown back from California this weekend to help with the continuing search.

Jack may be evading the army of airline employees on his tail, but he’s found the time to set up shop on Twitter. “One thing @AmericanAir hasn’t thought of … litterbox. Hope this green dress wasn’t important. #luggage” tweeted @jackthelostcat yesterday.

Joking aside, the incident offers a troubling cautionary tale for traveling pet owners. While many animals fly safely every year, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 17 pets were killed and 5 injured on U.S. airlines between January and June 2011 (the latest dates for which statistics were available). If your pet is small enough, it’s almost always safer to carry him or her onboard with you rather than take a chance on the cargo hold.

See more tips for keeping pets safe while traveling. And if you find yourself at JFK in the next few days … keep an eye out for Jack.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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4 Responses to “Jack the Cat Goes Missing at JFK, Makes Headlines”

  1. Pemberton says:

    Jack looks like such a sweetheart. It was so sad to read this. I hope he finds his way back to his owner. Pets should not be treated as cargo.

  2. Arlene says:

    I think it’s time that the aviation industry establishes a new policy for boarding animals on flights. The owner or a paid animal handler should be in charge of the animal from check-in to overseeing that the animal is placed on the aircraft. Jack the cat is not the only sad animal story from JFK, but he is one story too many.

  3. Starlee Carew says:

    I agree 1000%!!!! Our pets are better behaved than many children. If pets need to travel as cargo, then kids should, too! As a sign in our house reads: “Pets welcome – children must be leashed!”

  4. Ginger D. says:

    A suggestion would be to put one of the TSA combo locks on pet carriers. Animals have an uncanny ability to open things and make their escapes. I’m sure Jack is in hiding for now but hopefully will make his whereabouts known soon. Cats can be lost for a long time and then suddenly show up and be ok. Good luck with Jack!

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