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JFK to construct luxurious terminal for traveling pets

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Classic Communications courtesy of ARK Development via AP

(Read caption) This undated artist rendering provided by Classic Communications courtesy of ARK Development depicts Paradise 4 Paws, a holding area for dogs in a new luxury terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The privately owned ARK, as it's called, will handle the more than 70,000 animals that pass through JFK each year, including dogs, cats, horses, cows, birds, sloths and aardvarks.

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Climate-controlled stalls with showers, a 20,000-square-foot luxury “resort” for dogs, and real trees for cats to climb. It might be what your pets are dreaming about when they twitch their legs, but it's also the latest project at JFK airport.

As the Associated Press reported, the $48 million, 178,000-square-foot air terminal made specifically for animals is set to open next year. Known as The Ark, the facility looks set to live up to its biblical namesake. Airports across the country provide services for animals, but none have an entire terminal dedicated to them. The Ark will be the first.

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The Ark will replace a 10,000-square-foot kennel known as the VetPort, Crain’s New York Business reported. Developers John Cuticelli and Aaron Perl of Racebrook Capital saw an opportunity to replace the aging facility with a top-notch animal shelter and quarantine. According to Crain’s New York Business, they plan on making money by charging owners as a hotel would.

“It will be a place for people who love their pets like they love their kids,” said lead architect Cliff Bollman, “Maybe more.”

He isn’t kidding. According to AP, The Ark will house a 20,000-square foot “resort” for dogs run by the company Paradise 4 Paws featuring bone-shaped splashing pools, massage therapy, and “pawdicures with colored nail pawlish.” Suites will come complete with flat-screen televisions and video cameras that owners can use to check in on their pets.

The Ark will also provide a top-notch quarantine facility. Many animals arriving from overseas must be quarantined to ensure that they are not carrying any contagious diseases – often up to three days for horses. Currently, horses must be transported about 80 miles north of the airport to a quarantine facility. Lachlan Oldaker, an equine-specialist and member of the architectural team, told the AP, The Ark’s design “…allows planes to taxi directly to the building so horses can be transported in a seamless fashion that reduces stress.”

Many animal owners are more concerned with how their pet is transported. Horror stories surrounding overheated cargo holds tend to circulate social media in waves. But CNN gives several tips to ensure both you and your pet are feeling secure:

  • Avoid summer flights.
  • Opt for direct flights.
  • Make sure your pet is fit to fly.
  • Keep very young puppies and kittens at home
  • Notify airline employees that your pet is on board.

Barbara DeBry, owner of Puppy Travel, told MSNBC “the percentage of people traveling with their pets is going up between 10 and 15 percent monthly.” And according to a 2012 report by Market Watch, a major airline typically accommodates 500 pets a day.

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So how much will it cost for animal owners to lodge their precious cargo at the Ark? According to Crain’s New York Business, entry-level accommodation for dogs costs $50 a night at other hotels run by Paradise 4 Paws and the suites could cost up to $100 per night.

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The Port Authority expects about 70,000 animals to pass through the Ark annually.