• Saipan Cares

United Please Re-Open the PetSafe Travel Program!

Pet owners in the CNMI often face an impossible choice about what to do with their furry family members when they move away from the Marianas.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, options for sending a dog or cat from Saipan to the US mainland have become almost non-existent. There is no veterinarian in the CNMI to issue health certificates for travel, meaning that pets must be flown to Guam for examination before traveling to their final destination. They also have to be flown on chartered flights, because United Airlines has discontinued its pet transport program for all but military service members.

Even if the health certificates, flights, and quarantine can be arranged, which has become easier in recent months due to some really fabulous people on Guam, it can cost thousands of dollars to send each pet.

During a difficult and expensive move, this is more than most families in the CNMI can afford even for pets they love and cherish. So owners are forced to make the choice to leave their fur babies behind. Saipan Cares for Animals receives calls almost every week asking us to accept pets because their family is moving away. We have been able to take in a few. More have been abandoned at empty houses to starve or be rounded up by dog control.

The United PetSafe pet transport program charged approximately $300-700 to ship a pet to the US mainland from Guam or the CNMI, depending on the size of the crate. Now, because the dogs have to switch Airlines in Hawai’i, they have to go through a complex customs and processing procedure that is stressful for the animal and adds thousands of dollars to each flight bill. These chartered flights can be unreliable and last minute changes or cancellations can strand pets who are poised and ready to ship out to their new homes.

Saipan Cares for Animals is joining animal rescue organizations in Guam and the CNMI to call for United Airlines to re-open the PetSafe travel program. We are urging United to do their part for the collective mission to improve the lives of our beloved Marianas boonie dogs. Members of our community should not be forced to go bankrupt trying to keep their pets, and helping to facilitate overseas adoptions will free up space in shelters for more animals in need.

HOW CAN YOU HELP? Reach out to United Airlines and urge them to re-open the PetSafe travel program for the benefit of all pets and pet owners in the Marianas and across the country.

  • You can find United Airlines on Facebook and Twitter @United

  • You can mail a letter to United CEO Scott Kirby. You can download a pre-written letter BELOW - simply fill out your information, print the letter, and mail it to United Airlines, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606

  • You can contact your local representative and urge them to reach out to United Airlines on behalf of their constituents.

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YOU CAN ALSO DONATE to Saipan Cares for Animals and help the pups who are currently stranded by flight cancellations. Saipan Cares for Animals is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Your donations are tax deductible.

Thank you for your continued support of animal rights and welfare in the Marianas! Please share this story and spread the word about the dire situation our animals are facing right now.


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