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How this NYC airport is changing the game for pet travel

Four-legged flyers are getting a taste of the "suite" life.

How this NYC airport is changing the game for pet travel

Over 2 million animals fly commercially each year.

It's looks less like this:


"Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking. You are now free to sniff each others' butts." Photo by Thinkstock.

And more like this:

"Can we at least get some pretzels?" Photo by ilovemytank/Flickr.

The experience is often chaotic and stressful for humans and animals alike. While animals have a 1 in 50,000 chance of suffering injuries or death during air travel, stories of incidents often spread rapidly.

As such, pet owners are looking for any way to make sure their furry friends are happy and healthy throughout the travel experience.

That's why John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City is stepping up big time for animals and their owners.

To assist four-legged travelers and the humans who love them, Kennedy is turning an unused cargo terminal into The Ark at JFK, a full-service, USDA-approved airport facility just for animals.

And from the looks of it, it's going to be doggone fancy.

No word on whether they're tuned to Animal Planet, but The Ark does have flat-screen TVs just for pets. Image by Ark Development.

Named for the biblical vessel, The Ark at JFK is more than a terminal, it's set to be a first-class destination for pets.

Opening in early 2016, the 178,000 square foot space will replace Vetport, a 10,000-square-foot facility built in the 1950s.

The Ark will house a pet spa (complete with "pawdicures"), dog suites, a cat adventure jungle, an animal training center, and a veterinary hospital. Pets can spend the night or just pop in between flights.

This is the place your dog is running to when she kicks her paws in her sleep. Image by Ark Development.

It will also be a comfy spot for larger animals like horses and livestock, who definitely can't fit comfortably under the seat in front of you.

When horses and livestock enter the United States, they're required to remain in quarantine to check for contagious diseases. Depending on their country of origin, the animal's stint in quarantine could last anywhere from three to 60 days! At The Ark, their stay will include climate-controlled, hay-lined stalls.


"What is this, Horseville? 'Cause I am surrounded by nay-sayers! Wordplay!" Quote from "30 Rock." Image by Ark Development.

This isn't just to make humans feel good about where their pets are; The Ark is designed to minimize stress on pets and livestock, thanks to input from architecture and animal experts.

The space was designed by master architects and leaders in animal facility design including Temple Grandin Livestock Handling Systems.

You may know the name Temple Grandin because she is a leading animal expert, advocate for people with autism, and the subject of the eponymous HBO film.

Grandin's systems encourage calm and humane animal transport and will be found throughout The Ark.

If you saw "Temple Grandin," you may remember Grandin espousing the importance of moving livestock in circular patterns to cut down on stress. That system will be put to use in The Ark. Image by Ark Development.

Staying at The Ark won't come cheap, but for many owners, it's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Prices for are still in the works, but a first-class dog "suite" could run pet parents $100, and that's on top of airline tickets and fees.

But for the 63% of pet owners who see their animal as a member of the family and who contributed to the $58 billion spent on pets last year, it may be a small price to pay for their comfort and safety during long and stressful trips.

I will do a lot of things in this life, but I'll never be as cool as this dog. Photo By Manny Ceneta/Getty Images.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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