Go and beg, but pet's illness not exception to rules

travel q&a airline tickets

November 23, 2008|By Los Angeles Times

My husband and I purchased tickets from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June. The trip was scheduled for Nov. 4. About a month ago, Bob, our 27-year-old cat, was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. The vet said he had two weeks. I was not about to lose him without a fight, and the next thing you know, he's at least 90 percent of what he used to be. But he requires intensive care. The airline tells me that I have only one year from the date of my ticket purchase to travel. Can anything be done?

We do many things for our pets that defy logic. The American marketplace has tapped into this, creating a $50-billion-a-year industry.

The U.S. airline system, alas, has yet to tap into anything that remotely resembles this level of compassion, so to answer your question, there is probably little you can do.

For those facing such situations, whether it's Bob or Uncle Bubba who's ill, the options from the outset include buying a refundable ticket, buying cancel-for-any-reason insurance or eating the ticket.

Who, you might ask, would find herself in a pet-produced dilemma that requires such sacrifices? Based on the responses I received from experts, the answer is pretty much everybody who owns and loves a pet.

Indeed, my biggest fear in writing this column is that nonpet lovers will ridicule the writer for her choice. And it is a choice.

"I would say that it's a free country, and we're all entitled to have our own values," said Susan Cohen, director since 1982 of counseling at the Animal Medical Center, a nonprofit animal hospital in New York. "Pets are so good for you, [and] even the care of sick pets can bring something to your life."

Plus, pets increasingly are viewed as members of the family circle.

"The more stressful life gets, the more people want that comfort - hamburger, fries and a cocker spaniel," said Warren Eckstein, host of Petcentric Cafe on Sirius satellite radio.

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