Written by T. J. Banks

The mere thought of getting a cat or dog safely from one state to another can be daunting enough.  Try imagining providing easier transport, quarantine, and safe haven for such international travelers as capybaras, elephants, and Icelandic horses.

In operation since September 2017, The ARK at JFK Import/Export is the dream-child of John J. Cuticelli, Jr., and his wife Elizabeth A. Schuette, who were eager to revolutionize the transport of horses and other animals into the U.S.

The result is a privately owned 24/7 operation at New York’s largest airport built to accommodate every sort of four-footed, winged, or slithering creature imaginable. The 178,000-square-foot facility includes 48 climate-controlled horse stalls and The ARK Pet Oasis. The Oasis is, Schuette says, “a central resource available to all airlines, pet shippers, and pet parents, servicing the needs and promoting the welfare of companion animals traveling as live cargo.  Think of it as a resting area for small animals like cats that will be taken care of and pampered, pre- or post-flight.”

The larger animals benefit, too, often in very unexpected and vital ways, as Superstorm Sandy, the first horse to arrive at The Ark, did.  “When the mare got to The ARK, her temperature was normal and gum color was good, but you could sense that she just wasn’t quite right,” the vet in charge explains. “We got her on GastroGard right away. We were able to start feeding her small, frequent meals because of The ARK’s 24-hour care. She was a different horse the next day. If she had come off the plane and gone on a trailer straight to another import facility, it could have been a different story.”