NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A traveler sent their pet cat through the X-ray machine in a carry-on bag at the Norfolk Airport Friday morning.
We’re not kitten.
The Transportation Security Administration tweeted out a picture with proof and a reminder to travelers to always remove your pet from the carrying case, then place the case through the X-ray machine. Animal carriers will undergo a visual and/or physical inspection.
“We are seeing more people traveling with their pets and too many people are leaving them in the carrier case and sending them through the machine,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein told the Washington Post. “No living creature, human or animal, needs to be exposed to X-rays they don’t need.”
The TSA says agents work hard to prevent animal scans before they happen, but some pets do make it into the X-ray machine.
“If you think you’re saving time, you’re not,” Farbstein said.
It’s worth noting that for humans, general-use X-ray machines at airports emit extremely low amounts of radiation, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Someone who passes through one will receive less radiation from the machine than they would from naturally occurring sources in 42 minutes of ordinary living, the FDA says.
There are other reasons, however, for which the TSA would prefer you do not send your pet down a conveyer belt to mix with the luggage of other passengers.
“It’s not unheard of that people have done that, which is why we try to educate them,” TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers told LA Weekly after a similar incident in 2015 involving a pet cat. “When you travel with your pet, do not put your pet on the X-ray. The number one thing is you should never separate yourself from your pet.”
Pets are not permitted inside airport terminals at the Norfolk Airport unless they are traveling by air in a kennel or carrier. Service and emotional support animals must remain on a leash at all times.
Nexstar’s WAVY reached out to the airport to ask what happened to the cat in this incident. Farbstein said the cat and its owner had to go through the checkpoint the proper way. The owner held the pet and they went through the checkpoint together.
So, in the end, the cat did get out of the bag.
The TSA reminds people that there are also private screening rooms for cats and other animals that may be harder to hold if they become frightened.
If a pet is on a leash, the owner will walk it through a metal detector.