As has been well publicized, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey hired former Secretary LaHood to examine the problems at JFK Airport when a terminal flooded in the midst of a snow storm. While he provides help in that task, the Secretary might help figure out what happened to JFK’s ARK.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey working with ARK Development, LLC, are building a humane facility at JFK, a comprehensive multi-purpose animal handling complex. As noted before, such improvements are needed.
Air transportation systems were not designed for the carriage of animals. Only large cargo aircraft have the size and air/heat conditioning support is adequate. The belly holds of passenger airliners are less than ideal environments for these creatures. High acceleration/stopping, the sensation of lift, pressurization/depressurization and a host of other experiences create stresses on these living creatures.
The actual air movement is tough enough of a challenge, but there are additional hurdles—the initial acceptance of this live cargo, the transfer between flights, any quarantine time and the delivery at the ultimate destination. All of these steps are frequently conducted in surroundings which are conducive to the comfortable transition of these animals.
The below article describes the first USDA-approved, full-service 24-hour privately owned airport quarantine facility for the import and export of horses, pets, birds, exotic animals and livestock. The ARK at JFK has been designed by a team of architects, designer and engineers, who are familiar with the special needs of this class of travelers. The United States Department of Agriculture and Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine provided further expertise for the project.
Hopefully the Ark will improve the transportation by air of animals through this global air cargo hub.
So promising, so needed; so now what?
The animals are not coming to the Ark at Kennedy International Airport. Not one by one. Not two by two.
On a recent Thursday morning, no million-dollar racehorses or sleek show horses from Europe were standing in the 48 specially designed stalls for their mandatory three-day quarantine. No pigeons or finches bound for pet shops fluttered in the 5,000-square foot aviary. Paradise 4 Paws, a dog and cat resort with 150 suites inside Ark, has yet to open.
The $65 million animal transit facility opened a year ago to great fanfare, as “the world’s only animal terminal and the first full-service quarantine facility” for the import and export of horses, pets, zoo animals and livestock. Built just yards from the runways, the idea was that animals could be deplaned and within minutes be enjoying the Ark’s climate-controlled environment and, if needed, the services of its veterinary clinic.
Instead, just before the new year, John J. Cuticelli Jr., the Ark’s owner, filed a $426 million lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Queens against his landlord, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that oversees the airport and solicited the animal handling center.
Mr. Cuticelli says the Ark is incurring “massive operational losses” and is in imminent danger of shutting down.
The PANYNJ and the USDA encouraged the development of this facility; now, according to the plaintiff, the contracted exclusivity is non-existent.
Secretary LaHood was a Republican in President Obama’s cabinet. Clearly this expert bipartisan could sort out the elephants and donkeys.
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