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Dogs Die On Airline Flights

A couple of things surprised me in the just-released AP/USA Travel Department of Transportation (DOT) report that 122 dogs died on airplanes since May 2005.

I was surprised that DOT only required reporting the death of dogs in transport since 2005. What took them so long? Did dog deaths not matter much?

And candidly I was surprised by some of the callous comments made on an MSNBC web page by readers.
One asked if there were "Any volunteers to ship your small children in the cargo hold of an airplane?"

Not funny.

Another asked, "why we have to put up with crying babies but we can't have our little dogs that don't bother anyone on our laps. that's just stupid!!"
What's the point? That dogs and babies are more alike than not, or that dogs are more important than babies?

In this case, the airlines are not the villains.
Most of the dogs that died were short-muzzled breeds. English Bulldogs accounted for the highest number of deaths, 25; Pugs accounted for 11 of the deaths, with Golden Retrievers and Labradors making up the rest.

Adam Goldfarb who directs the Humane Society's Pet Risk program, told the Atlantic Journal-Constitution that Bulldogs and similar dogs top the list because their short snouts and reduced nasal areas, typical of the breed, reduce the dog's ability to cool itself, through breathing.
Add to the heat, the stress, noise and unfamiliar surroundings, and pet lovers have to ask is it worth it to transport a dog, any dog, by plane.

Flying is stressful enough for people.

All the pets that died were being transported in the cargo hold of planes, leading some airlines, notably Delta, to refuse to fly short-snouted breeds when the temperatures reach 75 degrees...85 degrees for all other kinds of dogs, which already seems extreme.

Sonny Seller, owner of the University of Georgia mascot, Uga, an English Bulldog, has his pet undergo surgery before the dog flies.

Apparently there's a procedure that clips the muscles and tissues of the nasal passage allowing the dog to breathe more easily. Seller told an Atlantic Journal Travel reporter that they've lost seven Bulldogs already, but regarding Uga's air travel, Seller says "it's just business with us." Uga, he says, flies in the cabin or air conditioned hold of the university's private plane.

The DOT also reports 88 lost or injured dogs from May 2005 to this last May.
Is it just the breed or is flying dogs irresponsible?


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Comment by Durant Imboden on July 24, 2010 at 2:11pm
>>People die on planes (regardless of their nose sizes) probably due to crashes though.

The stats that I liked to concerned inflight, as opposed to crashed-flight, deaths.

I remember reading in CNT a few years ago that Singapore Airlines has cadaver compartments on its newer long-range deaths (presumably for passengers who die of natural causes, not as a result of being hanged for smoking weed in the lavatories).
Comment by Kaleel Sakakeeny on July 24, 2010 at 1:43pm
Yes it does follow that dogs will die on planes. People die on planes (regardless of their nose sizes) probably due to crashes though.
Our points:
• Why only start reporting deaths in, and from 2005
* Why only now make the results public
* You're right, our vanity (and the marketplace) drive breeders to create ever more "exotic pets" that put them in danger, thus there is a shared responsibility.
• Collies, given their extended muzzles/nasal passages seem to do well
There is one pet airline in existence. Perhaps there should be more
I invite your comments on my Technorati home page piece, Why Travel PR Has To Change" or here on Tripatini, since I know you to be a keen observer of travel-related issues
Thanks for writing in
KS
Comment by Durant Imboden on July 24, 2010 at 1:12pm
People die on airplanes, too--about 100 per year on airlines that use MedAire, to judge from this 2008 article:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/02/25/air.medicine/index.html

Back in the late 1980s, JAMA reported an average of 72 human inflight deaths per year among IATA's 120 member airlines:

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/259/13/1983

So it stands to reason that some dogs are going to die, too, even under the best of circumstances.

To judge from the information in this thread's original post, it would appear that owners of many dogs that have died inflight need to share blame with the airlines: Just because as airline is irresponsible enough to accept a snub-nosed dog for transportation in warm weather doesn't mean the owner needs to be equally irresponsible. (Come to think of it, one has to wonder about the ethics of breeding dogs to emphasize characteristics that lead to health problems--and of rewarding breeders who do so.)

For what it's worth, our Bearded Collie (http://maggieinvenice.com) flew transatlantic twice on Delta this year and wasn't traumatized or hurt by the experience. But we wouldn't consider taking her on a plane in hot weather (even if Delta didn't have an embargo on pets as checked baggage during the warmer months) or if she were in her golden years.
Comment by Kaleel Sakakeeny on July 23, 2010 at 9:40am
We couldn't agree more! We need a new consciousness toward all living things, from oceans to dogs!
Thanks for writing in.
KS
Comment by Joseba Basabe on July 23, 2010 at 8:28am
dogs are family too and some time they are more family than the real peoples if u know what i mean, they should allow all the dogs on the cabin of the auirplane, i scriminal that they can die in cargo hold!!!
Comment by Kaleel Sakakeeny on July 22, 2010 at 4:12pm
Thank you!
Comment by Ed Wetschler on July 22, 2010 at 3:16pm
As usual, Kaleel, this is right on target.

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