Cathay Pacific has joined a growing number of major airlines in banning short-snouted cats and dogs from flying, as these breeds can be more prone to health problems in-flight.
The Hong-Kong based airline has enforced the no-fly ban on so-called ‘brachycephalic’ animals – characterised by their snub noses which make them more susceptible to developing breathing problems and heat stroke.
Pugs, Shih Tzus, Boxers and Bulldogs are included on the airline’s banned list, as well as Burmese, Himalayan, Persian, and exotic shorthair cats.
In the US, short-snouted breeds accounted for about half of purebred dog deaths on passenger planes between 2005 and 2010, according to figures released by the Department of Transportation (DOT) last July. In total, 122 dog deaths were recorded during the five-year period.
While airlines don’t release data on the number of animals they transport each month, the dog death count represents a tiny fraction of the total number of pets carried each year by airlines.
But airlines are increasingly choosing to either ban or restrict the shipping of short-snouted pets.
Last November, American Airlines banned all breeds of snub-nosed dogs and cats in the cargo hold and as checked luggage.
Delta does not accept pugs or snub-nosed dogs and cats as checked baggage or cargo if the temperature on any part of their trip exceeds a certain temperature.
Continental does not allow pugs, Boston terriers or Bulldogs at hotter times of the year – between May 15 and Sept 15- and places restrictions on their carriage at other times of the year, depending on the forecast at the time.
United Airlines restricts the carriage of short-nosed breeds between June 1 and September 30 each year.
Qantas bans purebred snub nosed and all pit bull dogs on flights over five hours long.
While airlines are showing that they are taking greater responsibility for pets that are more vulnerable when exposed to the stresses of flying, Rebecca Ngan, PR and communications manager for Hong Kong’s Society for the Protection of Animals (SPCA) argues that the ban can do more harm than good.
Ngan is quoted in CNN saying: “We understand that they [airlines] must have certain statistics that certain breeds of dogs are more problematic in the cargo cabin, but there are cases when air travel is unavoidable, especially when owners need to emigrate.
“If [pet] owners cannot send them in the cabin, they may have to abandon them or put them to sleep.”
Airlines have specific guidelines on shipping animals by air and many carriers require pet owners to present a health document proving that their animal is fit to fly.
Short-snouted dogs and cats are welcome on the world’s first pet only airline, Pet Airways, which launched flights in 2009 – but it currently only flies within the US.
The airline transports dogs and cats as ‘pawsengers’ in the main cabin and not in the cargo hold.
Do you agree with Cathay Pacific’s blanket ban on snub-nosed pets? Should all pets be banned from flying as cargo? Have your say, by commenting below.