The Creature in the Cage

November 10, 2010

in Animal Stories

It all happened in January 2010 at the irritating DFW Airport – irritating as this place was designed back in the day of many carriers.  We all hate walking from one end to other just because [INSERT YOUR SMALL TOWN HERE] has few passengers so they stick you on the end.

We queued up to get through security to enter the wing.  Ahead of me was this very attractive young lady in those “furry, fancy ski resort type boots.”  Wait, sorry – this is irrelevant to my story.

There was this middle-aged lady, nothing out of the ordinary, in front of me with a smallish CAGE; yes, this is the kind with the cover, or shade, or drapes, hiding the sleeping beast.  So far, so good.  I think I heard something… could not place it.  Stay with me.

As we moved closer (long queue), I thought I heard something again… it dawned on me it was clearly coming from the cage.  It was at this point I realized she may be running a little late.  You see, I NEVER arrive late (anymore) – not worth the stress.  In a sick way, I actually enjoy watching folks who are late – nothing tests that new FRESH MOUNTAIN Old Spice roll-on than a nice jog in a shirt and tie.

Back on track – we are #2 and readying for the fun (yes, one of my pet peeves is taking my shoes off and walking on other folks’ sock sweat).  The lady, I’ll call her Marge (as she looked like a Marge somehow), is looking anxiously at her cage.  No noise this time, but something triggered me to pay attention as I took off the belt I forgot always sets off the machine.  The seemingly nice TSA rep asked her to remove her animal.  No big deal.  Well, this is when the fun begins.

MARGE: “Sorry, sir, but I cannot remove this thing from the cage.  It is angry.”

TSA: “Well, you have to, ma’am.”

MARGE: “This thing is not mine and I will not… it does not like me; you see, my son owns this thing and I am just transporting it for him.”

TSA: “What kind of animal is it, ma’am.”

MARGE: “I am not sure, sir.”

TSA: “You have to take it out of the cage; well, er, we could put it through the X-RAY but, well, you know what will happen.”

MARGE: “There is no way I am touching this thing; you do it.”

At this point, a weird noise came from said cage.  I finally got a decent glimpse; it was not a squirrel… hmm, not a ferret… clearly not a small dog… what the F**** is it – maybe some wild Canadian creature from the woods?

MARGE: “Look, sir, I am very late for my flight so can you PLEASE just do a visual.”

TSA: “Sorry, but we have to either have you take it out of the cage or we must risk it by putting the cage through the X-RAY.”

Now, let’s pause: I am no expert, but all parties watching this “situation” all agreed with “the gentle brow shift or nod” that this was not a great idea.

Next was what I’ll call THE GREAT PAUSE.  Everyone, TSA included, waited for the response.  Wait for it…

MARGE: “Please PUT HIM through; it is not mine anyways.”

At this point, Paul (er, me) says under his breath, “AWESOME!”  I know, you would not have said this, and I believe you.  I love all of God’s creatures, but it was a slow news day.

In she, he, it, went – MUCH to the surprise of the ONLY person who clearly was not listening to all this – the TSA video screen operator.  It was priceless to see the belt move BACK AND FORTH as the video screener lady tried to figure out what this thing was; one more dose of radiation, two more doses, let’s go for three?  bam, bam, bam

No obvious noises or distresses – more like an eerily silent hush – like my brother Jeff after two Bern’s steak house Calvados snifters.  Who knows if this thing is roaming today.

And there she went.

TSA: “Next, please.”

And then it was my turn… shoes and belt back on… flight was good that day!

I know I’ll get posts from JODY or GOOD KING HEROD (or maybe even JB the fuddy-duddy) saying, “Paul, why the heck didn’t YOU pick up the animal from the cage for the lady… are you no gentleman?”  There was no way, not this time… I still can’t figure out what it might have been.

– Paul

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Clare November 10, 2010 at 7:10 pm

If I had been the OP I would not have taken the animal from the cage either. It's not about being a gentlemen, it's about self-preservation, especially when neither the woman nor the screeners knew what kind of animal it was. For all we know this could have been a wild animal that would have bitten whomever removed it from the cage. It could be a species of animal that carries diseases like rabies. If the animal bit the woman, one of the screeners or the OP, that could have been very problematic.

I completely support the OP in his actions.


Jody November 11, 2010 at 1:08 am

(hah, fooled you)

No way would I have picked up the cage and no way would I suggest a stranger pick it up. Who knows what was really in it?

I'm a dog lover, but even if I knew it was a dog, I wouldn't pick up a cage with a snarling unhappy dog in it.


paul November 11, 2010 at 11:00 am

I knew you and JB would come around…

What was it? Honestly, I just don't know… I only got the one quick glimpse… must have been rat (as some punk kids do like things such as is).

Thinking more on this issue, wouldn't you THINK tsa would have joined with PITA and forced a rule that NO PET can go through the screening??? I think a change request is in order for their policies – along with banning knitting needles!!!


Dina November 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

I've had pet rats, and when well-handled, they are sweet as pie.

When not well-handled? Notsomuch…

If it was large enough to conceivably be a small dog, though, that would be one hell of a big rat!


James November 12, 2010 at 4:51 am

There is a policy:

"Your animal will NEVER be placed through an X-ray machine." No mention of ionizing-radiation scanners (full-body imaging.)

Since it is DFW, the airline is probably American. They only allow cats and dogs:


JB November 11, 2010 at 6:40 am

Paul- I have to say, I really enjoyed this story. I just wish that you could tell us what was in the cage.


David November 11, 2010 at 11:18 am

I guess it must have been one of those assist animals with a medical reason that it has to be with her and it had to be for her not anyone else

Otherwise it would have to go in the hold with any other animal or pet

So she must have known what it was and had paper work from a doctor or the tsa wouldn't let it through


David November 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

I guess this was a aid pet or a psychological assistant animal to help the person with a letter from a doctor saying that the animal must be kept with the individual at all times and is suitable for a plane

TSA won't let an animal of any kind on a flight without a doctor note saying that it's for personal aid like a seeing eye dog and the woman wouldn't be allowed to take a animal that wasn't hers on the plane as carryon and she would have to know what animal it is

So the animal would have to go with the other pets in the hold/undercarriage of the plane and not with the public


DSD November 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm

And the "I don't read the stories I comment on" award goes to you.

The OP clearly stated the woman said it was her son's.


DSD November 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm

As I understand it, much like the new slogan for the USPS, "if it fits it ships". If the creature fits in a carrier that will fit under your seat, it may be taken as carry on. It may not be taken out of the carrier while on the plane though.


david November 11, 2010 at 7:43 pm

so your saying that as long as a deadly snake would be fine if it fits under the seat?

Airlines require that for an animal to be allowed on the plane with the public it has to be under certain circumstances and there has to be a doctors note or some proof that the animal has to be with you at all times

today when i was helping an elderly family member check in from EWR to LHR some woman was trying to bring her little chiwawa (spelling) and Continental said no all pets must be checked in no matter the crate size unless you have written documentation

DSD November 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

And the “I don’t read the stories I comment on” award goes to you.

The OP clearly stated the woman said it was her son’s.

And the "I don't read the whole comment" award goes to you DSD………..woman wouldn’t be allowed to take a animal that wasn’t hers on the plane congrats you get a gold star for reading


Glenn R November 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm

You can bring small pets into the cabin as long as they are caged and certain requirements are met. International flights are entirely different. Generally speaking, you can not bring animals into the cabin on international flights.


Karl November 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

It was one of them Gremlins from that movie.


brownstain November 11, 2010 at 11:45 am

Probably a rattlesnake.

Or a box full of butt-plugs.


DSD November 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Personally I think I would have offered to remove the beast, if for no other reason than to figure out what the heck it was. If it looked like it really might bite me I could alwasy back out and still have the most important piece of information for the story.

Ps. This is the last place I would have expected to run into a Bern's reference. Ya making me home sick.


paul November 11, 2010 at 2:40 pm

French Onion, wine cheese crackers, Medium Rare and thick; ok, I'll stop.


Peace Lover November 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Sounds like a critter from the critter films.


Glenn R November 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Doesn't this fall into the category of "Did anyone give you anything to take on board the aircraft?"


Lisa November 13, 2010 at 4:45 am

MY suspicion is that the furry ski resort ski boots were actually HIGHLY relevant to the story in that the creature also spotted them and “fancied them,” thereby kicking off said chain of events…(and which sadly, will inevitably lead to his demise). So, yes, a very troubling story indeed.


Troy November 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm

First of all you didn't say what if anything was the creatures state after it came out of the X-ray. Second, I do believe that animals can be in a container inside the cabin. I remember reading it on an Air Tran information pamphlet when I was in America earlier this year. Cheers from Aussieland.


Demotage May 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

They do allow deadly snakes in the cabin! I know it’s true because I saw it in a movie.


Sacha June 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I'm not sure after the new regulations but maybe five years ago I was on a plane with a woman with a small dog. She kept it under her seats but we were on a layover where we stayed on the same plane and she took it out to play with while we were on the ground. Perhaps it is not a TSA/FAA regulation but carrier/plane-specific?


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