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TSA reminds travelers to not put their pets through airport X-rays

By Kara Nelson, CNN

(CNN) — When it comes to packing for a flight, some travelers are checking off an extra furry box on their carry-on checklist, and it’s not their sherpa blanket!

While pets may seem odd on a packing list, fur buddies inside of travelers’ carry-on luggage are more common than you may think, according to TSA officials.

“We noticed an uptick” of pets coming through the X-ray screening, said Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson, who urged travelers to remove their pets from their carry-ons and not send them through the X-ray conveyor belt, in a news release.

While TSA officials come across a variety of live animals, including fish, birds and other reptiles, dogs and cats are the most common seen, according to Farbstein.

Travelers are advised to bring their pets in a hand-held travel carrier, and remove them right before beginning the screening process, according to the tips outlined in the news release.

The empty carrier should go on the conveyor belt, but travelers should “never place a pet in the X-ray tunnel,” the release said.

“The only time your pet should go for an X-ray is if your veterinarian schedules one,” Farbstein said. “It should be a concern for the pet owners who are exposing their pets to X-rays unnecessarily.”

“If possible, carry the pet through the walk-through metal detector during the screening process,” TSA officials advised.

“Alternatively, a pet can walk through the screening process if the owner has the pet on a leash,” the release added.

Pets should be returned into the carrier once security procedures are completed.

Another tip from the TSA: Know the temperament of your pet.

“Ensure that you can maintain control of it in a busy and potentially crowded airport,” the release said.

If a pet is “skittish” or has public anxiety, travelers should request a TSA officer for a private screening and the travelers will be escorted to a secluded room.

Moving through along the conveyor belt could be distressing for pets and concerns screeners who see life-size outlines of animals inside a bag.

“Our officers are shocked when they realize a traveler has not removed their pet from its travel case and has sent it into the X-ray unit,” Farbstein told CNN.

Pet travel regulations vary by airline and airport, so TSA officials advise travelers to check with the air carrier before traveling with a pet so they can be properly prepared.

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