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Bird’s-eye view

With poultry shipping, employee doesn’t wing it

Dawn Lautenschlager’s chicken purse showcases her postal passion for the business of shipping live animals.

If it clucks, it ships.

Just ask Dawn Lautenschlager, who has a real bird’s-eye view when it comes to tips for sending poultry safely through the mail.

The Phoenix senior business network specialist has made a name for herself on the subject. She began her postal career in 1989 and has spent the bulk of it learning and sharing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to shipping animals.

“I want everyone to be passionate about handling lives. People depend on these shipments. It’s their livelihoods,” said Lautenschlager, adding that shipping animals is a time-sensitive service and minutes count.

Lautenschlager, whom colleagues lovingly call the Bird Queen, receives postal inquiries from all over the United States, including: How do you properly care for live shipments? What do you do in the event of a missent live shipment?

In response, Lautenschlager has provided materials to educate employees on proper poultry shipping procedures and is looking to introduce a nationwide training program.

She said there are lot of poultry shipping misconceptions, particularly that chicks must be sent as Priority Mail Express. For example, they may be sent Priority Mail as a three-day service because they differ from adult birds. She further advised to not feed or offer water to them.

“Chicks will survive 72 hours after hatching without sustenance. Food and water can harm them,” she said, adding that when USPS receives chicks, the animals are generally 24 hours old, so the organization has a limited window to get them delivered.

Lautenschlager works closely with Greg Privett, chairman of the Bird Shippers of America industry group.

Hatcheries across the nation rely heavily on the Postal Service to deliver live birds and animals, he says.

“There is no better system in the country than the Postal Service,” said Privett, who is also president of Privett Hatchery in Portales, NM.

More information about the shipping and sale of live animals can be found in Publication 52 — Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail.

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