Jet Set Pets Face X-Ray Scans at Austrian Airports

Luggage scanner
Pets will now have to go through x-ray luggage scanners at two Austrian airports, February 26, 2014. Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Pets will be subjected to x-ray scans when taken on flights after two Austrian airports introduced new security measures.

Klagenfurt and Graz airports now require pets to be put through x-ray baggage scanning machines to prevent them from being used for smuggling illegal materials such as drugs or explosives, rather than simply having the animals walk through metal detectors, according to the Local.

An EU directive introduced at the start of the year made it compulsory for pets to be scanned by metal detectors when boarding flights. However, Austrian legislation means that individual airports have the right to choose how this scanning is implemented.

An Austrian interior ministry spokesman said that a safety study was being carried out to ensure that radiation from the x-rays would not damage the health of pets, after both airports reportedly received complaints from concerned owners. The spokesman said that initial findings showed that "there is no problem at all as regards to a negative impact on pets' health".

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the dosage of radiation received by objects scanned by airport x-ray systems is extremely low, totalling one millirad or less. In comparison, the minimum dosage used in food irradiation is 30,000 rads (there are 1,000 millirads in one rad).

Cats, dogs and ferrets can travel freely throughout the EU if accompanied by an EU national owner and in possession of a European pet passport. Animals must have received valid anti-rabies vaccinations and be identifiable by an electronic microchip or readable tattoo.