When Hurricane Irma became an immediate danger for the residents of Florida, Matt Varga started making arrangements for himself and his dog, Meeka, to evacuate from the state. However, the plans to safely leave Florida fell through – because, despite the natural disaster, Meeka was not allowed on the plane without a pet carrier.
After booking an American Airlines flight, Varga began to scour pet stores for a pet carrier suitable for Meeka to travel in, which is in accordance with the federal regulations. Unfortunately, after searching for one in 10 stores, it proved to be completely fruitless. With not much time on his hands, Varga decided to take his chances and go to the airport together with Meeka anyway. But as he soon discovered, American Airlines was not willing to make an exception to the pet carrier regulations, in spite of the approaching hurricane. In the end, Varga and Meeka both returned home – hoping for the best.
When animals’ very lives are at the stake, airlines, hotels, and similar businesses have often made exceptions to this kind of strict policies in the times of emergencies, like natural disasters. A Care2 petition in Varga and Meeka’s case points that fact out – and suggests that this was also an instance where the airlines should have taken such step, instead of giving the man the pseudo-choice of either abandoning his dog or just going back home and face the hurricane.
Since Meeka is a small dog and could have sat in her guardian’s lap, the risk of allowing her on the plane under Varga’s careful supervision was probably far smaller than that of the two returning home and remaining in the danger zone. “By strictly adhering to one-size-fits-all policies, American Airlines put Matt Varga and Meeka’s lives in grave danger,” states the petition.
An unwavering observance of policies designed for “normal” circumstances during a time of emergency can easily prove not only precarious but simply life-threatening. Click here to sign the petition for American Airlines to issue an apology and reconsider similar adherence to strict procedures in future emergencies.
Image source: Care2/CNN