Who takes care of pets during layovers at O'Hare Airport?

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Driving with pets can be tough. But flying with them can be even tougher. United Airlines calls its program for transporting animals the most sophisticated in the industry. (WLS)

Driving with pets can be tough. But flying with them can be even tougher. United Airlines calls its program for transporting animals the most sophisticated in the industry.

"We've had everything here. We've had owls. We've had potbelly pigs, panthers and lions. We've had koala bears. You name it. It's been like Noah's Ark," said Rod Zimmerman, cargo manager.

Animals that can't travel in the cabin are cared for by PetSafe staff members around the clock during layovers at O'Hare International Airport.

PetSafe sees up to 180 animals per day and about 4,000 a month.

John Fluehr transports the animals from the planes to the airport, where they are kept in a comfortable temperature, fed, walked and sometimes just hugged and cuddled to relieve stress.

But the time caregivers spend with animals is short. Fluehr said animals come and animals go. But one can see the affection he and the other PetSafe staff have for each one.

Once a pet is on the plane, United said their compartment is pressurized and temperature controlled. The transport vehicles are also climate controlled. United said the service is available whether it's 100 degrees outside or 10 degrees below zero.

Delta and other airlines are working on similar programs.

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petspet careohare airportChicago - O'Hare
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