This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
When online canine marketplace PuppySpot found itself impacted by the Covid-19 airline slowdown, it turned to private aviation to deliver baby hounds to their new homes. PuppySpot matches customers with highly vetted dog breeders across the U.S. and commits to safely delivering puppies to their destinations.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, 80 percent of the animals were transported with trained chaperones via airline pet-safe programs. But starting in February, “Covid came in and handed us all kinds of complications because routes and flight schedules evaporated for the airlines,” explained Josh Kreinberg, chief administrative officer and general counsel for PuppySpot.
Besides dramatically cutting the number of flights, most airlines suspended cargo pet programs because of the pandemic. Even using ground transportation became challenging, said Kreinberg, “because each municipality had restrictions with various quarantines.”
PuppySpot, which works closely with veterinarians, scientific advisers, and animal trainers and chaperones, prides itself on humane and careful treatment of the animals. It began to research alternatives and ultimately decided to enlist MNX Global Logistics to organize private cargo lift for the puppies.
According to Kreinberg, PuppySpot has delivered approximately 800 puppies to their new homes in the past six weeks using private cargo aircraft operated by Castle Aviation in North Canton, Ohio. Aircraft used have included a Cessna Caravan, a Saab 340, and a Metroliner. After logistics planning, an aircraft in a central location will be loaded with as many as 40 pups. The animals are tended to by PuppySpot chaperones and caregivers who ensure that the puppies stay comfortable, hydrated, and healthy. The aircraft make multiple stops to drop the dogs off at airports within reasonable driving distance of their final destinations. Customers pay approximately $800 for the service.
Flying the pups privately has proved revelatory for executives at PuppySpot, who are thrilled by the decreased travel times and newfound ability to control almost every aspect of the pups’ experience in the air—something they are unable to do during a commercial flight when a puppy is transported by airline in the cargo hold.