How a Dog goes through Airport Security Screening
A reader asked me this question: “I was wondering what is involved in taking a dog through security? Do they stay in their crate? Do they have to go through the metal detector? Or the new scanners?” – Dawn
This is a good – and frequent – question. I’ll do my best to demystify the process and let you know exactly what to expect. I have found the process is much the same in Canada, the US and in Europe. The exception is that in Canada, you will need to go through a secondary screen upon return; this will occur nowhere else. (That, Dear Readers, might be a post for another day.)
Okay, so follow me through the airport labyrinth:
1. Check you and your pet in at the airline reservation desk (or wherever the airline told you to check in). Then, with your pet in his/her airline-compliant carrier and your boarding passes and identification in hand, make your way to the security screening line.
By the way, with regard to carrier requirements, be sure to check the details with your airline or on their website. While most airline requirements for carriers are standard, airlines can vary from each other on small details.
2. Take off your own items (purse, laptop, coat, belts, shoes, etc.) and place them in a bin.
3. In a separate bin, place your pet’s items (carrier, harness, leash, collar with ID tags, toys etc.).
4. Once your and your pet’s items are in bins on the conveyor belt, take your now “naked” pet out of the carrier.
5. Be sure to always carry your pet. Most airports do not allow your dog to walk on a leash. If your dog is too heavy, or, if for example you have a bad back, let the security agents know this and make sure that the leash and collar you are using for your pet will be metal detector friendly: all fabric with plastic clips and NO metal tags.
6. Walk through the upright metal detector with your pet in your arms (or on leash at your side).
7. If you are traveling with a pet who is high-spirited or frightens easily, you can request screening in a room so your pet will not escape should you be unable to contain him or her while out of the carrier. (This option is often used for cats.)
8. The bipeds believe the now more common body scanners are not safe for humans, let alone pets. Whether traveling with or without me, they will say, “I opt out” and select a pat down (much to the annoyance of the TSA agents). What does this mena for you? Removing your pet from the carrier (as above the carrier goes through the x-ray with everything else) and be prepared to present your furry companion to the security officers should they decide to inspect your pet.
Your pet’s “pat down” will be much like your own and might include: fur being gently petted against the “grain,” pressure applied to the gut to feel for unusual bulging – Mom always makes sure I’ve gone for a good bathroom break before entering security – and a quick look into the eyes, ears and, maybe, mouth.
9. Place your pet back in the carrier before going for your own pat down.
10. With your pet still in his or her carrier, collect your items and continue on your way. From this point, your pet will likely be in the carrier until you arrive at your destination. As such, you may choose to leave your pet “naked” in the carrier for comfort.
I hope you have found this useful. Do you have anything to add? Any good tips and tricks? Any stories you would like to share? Please do so in the comments below so we can all benefit!