We've all heard the story of Noah's Ark, but did you know that JFK Airport has one of its own? Before you get too excited, we should tell you that this is not a ship of biblical proportions, but rather a multi-purpose animal handling facility designed to make travel easier and more fun for pets.
What is JFK's Ark?
JFK's Ark facility is the only privately owned airfreight animal center in the world. It offers in-transit animal-handling services, USDA-approved quarantine services, diagnostic labs, vet's offices, boarding services and grooming services for local and traveling pets.
The building is 178,000 square feet and sits on just under 15 acres of real estate. Construction began on the Ark in the early summer of 2015 and the first phase of the project opened in early 2017.
Phase 2 of the Ark will include a 20,000 square foot pet resort that offers spa services and a training center for both cats and dogs. The resort, managed by Paradise 4 Paws, is set to open in late spring/early summer of 2017. Additionally, the on-site vet hospital planned in Phase 3 will staff highly trained veterinarians, and will serve animals traveling through the area as well as the local companion pets of the area. The hospital will offer general wellness care, emergency and critical care, internal medicine and diagnostics, as well as surgery services.
Why the Ark?
In 2014, 53 million passengers utilized JFK's travel service. While it's difficult to estimate how many animals were included with those passengers, it's safe to assume that there is a decent need for travel accommodations targeted specifically at animals.
Until now, a passenger traveling with a dog would be hard-pressed to find on-site vet services, much less a doggie spa designed to help Fido unwind. JFK's Ark hopes to change all of that. In addition to serving four-legged travelers that make their way through the airport, the state-of-the-art facility also hopes to serve local animals and their people in order to increase the standard of care and training for the local community as well as the traveling community.
The Port Authority estimates that the Ark will cater to 70,000 animals on a yearly basis. In addition to cats and dogs, this number also includes birds, cows, pigs, horses and even mice. That's a lot more than a pair of each animal!
The Ark's veterinary staff, provided by Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, played a distinct role in planning the building, while institutions like Grandin Livestock Handling Systems assisted in the design of the overall facility. Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine also assisted in planning, consulting and overseeing the project to make it a reality. With all of these big names behind the Ark, it's easy to see why people are excited. For the first time, pet parents that travel through JFK Airport can ensure that air travel is relaxing, fun and enjoyable for their pets. The downside? The pampered pets may never want to leave!
Photo ©The Ark at JFK Airport