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Tag: airline

Short snouts and long flights don’t mix

Short-snouted dogs appear to run a far higher risk of death when it comes to air travel, according to federal government statistics released last week.

Bulldogs, pugs, and other short-of-snout breeds accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data shows.

Overall, 122 dog deaths — 108 of them purebreds — were reported between May 2005, when U.S. airlines were required to start disclosing them, and May 2010, the Transportation Department says.

All the dogs died while being shipped as cargo, as opposed to flying in the cabin.

English bulldogs accounted for the highest number, with 25 deaths. Second highest were pugs, 11 of which died. Seven golden retrievers, six French bulldogs and four American Staffordshire terriers died while flying as cargo in that period. And boxers, cockapoos, Pekingese and Pomeranians accounted for two deaths each.

You can see the full list here.

The Department of Transportation says dog owners should consult with veterinarians before putting their dogs on planes. It believes that the deaths represent a tiny percentage of the pets shipped on airlines.

Short-nose breeds — known as “brachycephalic” — in addition to being less tolerant of heat, have a skull formation that affects their airways, Dan Bandy, chairman of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee, told the Associated Press.

“The way all dogs cool themselves is basically through respiration, either just panting or the action of breathing in or out, is a method of heat exchange for them,” Bandy said. “A dog that has a long snout or a long muzzle has more surface area within its nasal cavity for that heat exchange to take place. So breeds like labradors or collies or those types of dogs with the long muzzles have a more efficient cooling system.”

Bandy said that in addition to trying to cool themselves, dogs may also pant excessively in the cargo hold because of stress or excitement. But he believes dogs shouldn’t be given tranquilizers before flying because that makes them less able to manage their own cooling process. In addition, airlines generally do not want pets tranquilized, he added.

In all, 144 pet deaths were reported by airlines over the past five years, along with 55 injuries and 33 lost pets.

Airline loses stray dog rescued in Mexico

A Canadian couple fell in love on their vacation in Mexico — with a stray dog.

Josiah Allen and Erin Docking were sitting on the beach in Puerto Vallarta when the small white dog came up, sat down next to them and stayed all day long.

By the time their 10-day vacation ended, the couple had determined to take the dog, who they’d named Paco, back to Canada.

They filled out paperwork, took him to a veterinarian for treatment of an eye infection and tick infestation, and paid to get him the necessary shots.

But on their flight home, Delta Airlines somehow lost the dog, the Detroit News reported.

On May 3, the couple placed Paco in a pet carrier and flew from Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City. At the airport there, they ran into trouble getting approval for Paco to fly to Detroit. Airline officials questioned whether the carrier was large enough for Paco but approved him for the flight once Allen signed a waiver protecting Delta from any claims if the dog was injured.

When Allen and Docking arrived in Detroit,  Paco was nowhere to be found.

“After waiting around for two hours, they told us (Paco) was in Mexico City and would be flown in on the next flight,” said Allen, 19, a kinesiology student at the University of Waterloo.

But Paco –  described as a mix between a “wiener dog and a Jack Russell terrier” — didn’t arrive the next day, and hasn’t since.

After Allen went public with the story, Delta officials called and offered to cover the expenses he’d incurred with Paco and throw in some extra cash, Allen said.

“Our staff has conducted exhaustive searches to locate the dog,” Delta officials said in a statement. “We have been in contact with the dog’s owner to inform them of the situation and to offer our sincere apologies that we have been unable to recover the dog…”

Some reports say Paco broke out of his cage at the airport and ran away — meaning he may once again be a stray, only this time in Mexico City rather than Puerto Vallarta.

Chihuahuas fly to where the odds are better

Virgin America flew 15 Chihuahuas from San Francisco to New York this week in an effort to aid the overcrowded population of Chihuahuas in California.

West Coast shelters, overwhelmed with Chihuahuas, have been looking for help from shelters on the East Coast, where there is a demand for the dogs.

Escorted by a veterinarian, the dogs were to arrive at JFK and be picked up by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which will help them find homes on the East Coast.

Virgin America’s Facebook page documented the flight, with videos and photos posted while in the air.

Pet Airways adds service to Baltimore

 Pet Airways — the animal-only airline we told you about last month — has added Baltimore to the list of cities it will serve.

The flights, which will start in July, will travel to Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and New York.

Pets will fly in kennel crates in the main cabin of the aircraft, watched over by a flight attendant, and tickets will start at $149 each way.

For a list of the airports served, click here.

(Photos: Petairways.com)

Homeward bound: Head ‘em up, move ‘em out

My amazing eight days in Seoul — which I’ll tell you a thing or two about in the days ahead – are over, and I’m almost home.

One more flight to go, from San Francisco to Baltimore, and that’s not for another few hours, giving me time to sit in the airport and reflect on things such as why we humans transport ourselves much like we transport our livestock.

Why is it those in charge of moving us non-grade A/non-first-class humans from one place to another feel we must be cramped and sweaty, packed in like these pick-up truck pigs I snapped a picture of in Yongin, about 40 miles south of Seoul.

Sure, we humans get beverage service, and perhaps headsets to listen to music, and reclining seats, but other than that — and the fact that we’re not slaughtered when we reach our destination — the experiences have some parallels. And if we were to look at subways, there’d be even more.

Subways are cheap and fast and, as crowded as those in Seoul could get, I never found myself resentful about feeling like part of the herd. With airline travel, because of the hefty cost and all the extra hassles, I’m more likely to oink about it.

I wonder if it might send a message if we all took to mooing and squealing as we trudged through the line on our way through the airport security chute. Or should we just be thankful that they don’t use cattle prods  to speed us along?

Granted, the average economy airline seat offers more room than these pigs get — but not much more, especially if the passenger in front of you has his seat fully reclined.

Fortunately, I slept through most of my last 10 airplane-seat hours — and I hope to do the same for most of the upcoming six. It’s not exactly quality sleep, what with some stranger’s elbow in your side, but it makes the time go by, and allows you to recover from the treatment you’ve just received from the security wranglers.

I think that’s why, even when one sleeps for the entire journey, one is still exhausted upon arriving home — the stress and cramped conditions of air travel. Still, I’m grateful for this much:

When I get to my final destination I might be toast. But at least I won’t be bacon.