Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal

Today, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved plans to build a new $32 million animal care facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The facility—meant for flyers who want their pets spruced up before a flight or taken care of during a long trip—will provide kenneling, grooming, and other services for an estimated 70,000 domestic and wild animals per year.

Beyond the risks of losing your cat or dog during unsupervised air travel, experts say other factors can cause serious physical and psychological damage to animals. Photo Credit:

Private developer ARK Development LLC signed a 20-year agreement to use Building 78 at the airport, which is currently empty, as well as an additional 14.4 acres of the airport grounds to build the facility.

The Port Authority says the facility will set “new national airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services.” 

Not only will the facility cater to domestic pets like dogs and cats, but it will also feature an aviary, quarantine area for horses, lawn space for animals to run around, a veterinary hospital, and a rehabilitation center, in addition to a “more efficient way of transporting animals,” according to Port Authority spokesman Ron Marisco.

“While most of our airport passengers walk on two legs, this new center will serve the important travel needs of our four-legged and winged friends, while helping to create regional jobs and significant revenue for the Port Authority,” said Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority.

The project is expected to create 190 jobs, $12.3 million in wages, as well as $50.5 million in economic activity, in addition to more than $108 million in rent during a 20-year lease period.

ARK anticipates spending $30 million for a 108,650 square-foot main center and another $2 million toward a 63,515 square-foot cargo handling facility in order to take over and expand services currently offered by Vetport in building 189.

The new setup would be larger than animal facilities currently in use at airports in Los Angeles and Miami.

“It was a good fit, because the vet port lease was coming to an end,” said Marsico. “This provides a wider range of services.”

Perhaps these new standards and services will prevent animals from being checked as baggage and going missing in airports like Jack the cat who went missing at JFK Airport for two months.