Consumer questions: Pet travel, gas prices, patents

May 9, 2008 6:03:31 PM PDT
Michael Finney answers your consumer questions on

Traveling with small pets

Question: What are the rules and regulations governing taking small pets on airplanes?

Answer: The federal regulations are few so a lot of it is up to the airline and many airlines will only accept dogs and cats, so if you want to bring a lizard, they may not let you.

The federal regulations are as follows:

  • If you want to carry your dog with you it has to be in a kennel that can fit under the seat in front of you.

  • The dog has to be able to turn around and it has to be able to stay there the entire trip if they (the airline) demand it. The FAA only demands it's there during takeoff and landing and while the plan is on the ground.

  • There are only two animals per case allowed.

    Outside of federal regulations, the individual airlines have rules. A lot of them won't accept pugs because they think they have a hard time breathing in high altitudes. So you need to go to your airline's website to check on your specific kind of animal. All airlines also require a reservation for your animal(s).

    Patents

    Question: How do you patent an invention?

    Answer: It doesn't take a lot of legal knowledge, it only takes knowledge of your invention. You can get the paperwork and do it all yourself if you're willing to do the work. If you're going to have a lot if inventions, you should do it yourself. But if you have the one "killer ap," you should get an attorney.

    To file yourself, go to www.nolo.com, download the forms you need and write up your invention very specifically. But remember, if it's a great idea and there's a loophole with your paper work, someone could steal your idea. So be very careful when completing the forms.

    Gas prices

    Question: When will gas prices go down?

    Answer: Things are not looking good. The last time I checked this morning, a barrel of oil was above $126. Last week it was $119, which was unheard of, so it doesn't look like it's coming down soon and there a couple of reasons why.

    The developing world now needs oil and gas resources just like the rest of the developed world does. So they're now competing for these scarce resources. Remember, a lot of these regions have no oil. They're buying on the spot market just like we are.

    At the same time, our usage is going down, and that's a good thing. From last year to this year, we're down about 7% in California. The rest of the world is using more. But all of that doesn't really matter because it's really based on fear that there won't be oil. So when people are concerned that there isn't going to be any oil, they bid up the spot market. And every time you hear that a barrel of oil cost $1 more, in about 3 or 4 weeks, that will be about 2.5 cents more per gallon at the pump.

    For more of Michael Finney's consumer stories and advice, visit 7 On Your Side.


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