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Tag: flying

Delta Air Lines stops flying bulldogs

Your bulldog is no longer welcome on Delta Air Lines, and it’s for their own good.

As we reported last summer, short-snouted dogs run a far higher risk of death when it comes to air travel, with bulldogs heading the list of cargo hold fatalities, according to federal government statistics.

Bulldogs, pugs and other snub-nosed breeds for whom its harder to take in oxygen accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data showed.

Since then two air lines have stop accepting bulldogs as passengers, most recently Delta, which based on its review of animal incidents last year, has opted to no longer carry American, English and French bulldogs.

Of the 16 pets that died on Delta flights in 2010, six were bulldogs.

Animal advocates are praising the decision, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“We’re pleased that Delta is being attentive and responsive to the particular animal welfare concerns with bulldogs,” said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the Humane Society of the United States. Shipping pets in cargo holds “really should only be a last resort, when absolutely necessary,” he said.

Other major carriers have restrictions on bulldogs and some other breeds, or decline to carry any pets in their cargo holds. AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines only accept pets that fit in under-seat carriers. American Airlines stopped carrying snub-nosed dogs and cats last November.

Delta had already restricted a wide range of snub-nosed breeds from flying in hot weather, including pit bulls, pugs and Persian cats.

U.S. Department of Transportation data shows that 122 dogs died on airlines from May 2005 to May 2010. Of those, 25 were English bulldogs and six were French bulldogs.

When dogs fly: More deaths in cargo

The deaths of seven puppies flying in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet have added to the growing concerns about pets and air travel.

A shipper last week checked 14 puppies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a flight to Chicago, according to SmartTravel.com. Despite the airline’s policy against carrying pets when outside temperatures are expected to exceed 85 degrees, the puppies were in the cargo hold as temperatures on the tarmac rose to 87 degrees by the time the delayed flight departed.

When the flight arrived in Chicago, the puppies were lethargic and in visible distress. They were taken to a vet’s office, but five died initially and two others died later, according to the Associated Press

The airline declined to identify the shipper, or the breed of the puppies. Animals traveling as cargo on American must be at least eight weeks old, and the airline doesn’t allow dogs or cats that have been sedated.

An airline spokesperson said cargo holds carrying animals are routinely kept between 50 and 70 degrees.

But experts — and statistics – say we shouldn’t count on that.

The deaths come a month after the U.S. Department of Transportation warned that short-snouted dogs such as pugs and bulldogs accounted for about half of the 122 dogs that died during U.S. flights in the last five years.

Add in the tales of dogs getting lost at airports and the best advice is to, whenever possible, avoid shipping a pet as air cargo. There are other alternatives — from using Pet Airways, where pets ride in crates in the cabin, to driving, as Ed Perkins of SmartTravel.com notes in a recent column.

The ASPCA recommends that owners avoid shipping pets in the cargo hold, and offers these tips for those who can’t.

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.

Dog makes finals of “America’s Got Talent”

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“America’s Got Talent” is the grammatically incorrect name of an NBC television program in which three people who, as far as I know, have never displayed any of their own, judge whether other humans have talent.

This season, though, another species somehow sneaked in, or is it snuck?

A dog named Rory, whose Frisbee skills are indeed stunning, is one of five contestants who have made it to the semi-finals. Rory beat out singer and piano player Charles DeWayne for the final position.

Before the final vote judge Piers Morgan — a former tabloid editor who serves as the token British snot on the panel — said if the dog was chosen over DeWayne, it would be “the biggest scandal” in the history of the show.

Judges David Hasselhoff and Sharon Osbourne, however, called Rory’s performance “brilliant.”

Flight of the bumble bee

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Smooth as it may look — especially when one’s zooming toward your head — the flight of the bumble bee is actually an awkward affair.

In fact, it’s surprising they even get off the ground.

According to a report in the journal “Experiments in Fluids” (in case you didn’t get your copy this month), an Oxford University study observed bumble bees in free flight within a smoke-filled wind tunnel, and found them to be “surprisingly inefficient.”

“Aerodynamically-speaking it’s as if the insect is ‘split in half’ as not only do its left and right wings flap independently but the airflow around them never joins up to help it slip through the air more easily,” the study leader said in a statement.

Most flying insects and birds rely on aerodynamic forces, but, with the bumble bee, it’s a matter of brute force — augmented, researchers say, by their diet of energy-rich nectar.

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.

Ratchet is coming home

A worldwide outcry by dog lovers has led the U.S. military to agree to release Ratchet, the Iraqi puppy they had confiscated from an Army sergeant who wanted to bring him home to Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

Fifty thousand signatures on online petitions, and some help from politicians, prompted the Army to make an exception (as it has before) to its ban on soldiers adopting and bringing home pets from Iraq.

Operation Baghdad Pups, a program of SPCA International, had hoped to get the pup on a flight Wednesday, but the Army moved slowly in releasing the dog, causing it to miss a scheduled flight.

Program officials will make a special trip back to Iraq on Sunday to try to retrieve him.

Sgt. Gwen Beberg, who adopted Ratchet as a 4-week-old pup after fellow soldiers in Baghdad rescued him from a pile of burning trash, sent her mother a short e-mail Wednesday when she heard the news: “I AM THRILLED THAT RATCHET IS GOING HOME.”

Her mother, Pat Beberg, said she hopes Ratchet’s case might get the military to reconsider its policy against pets. “I want to make sure that other soldiers do not encounter this,” Beberg said. “[Gwen] is using a puppy to handle stress. Isn’t that so much better than popping a handful of pills?” 

Operation Baghdad Pups was founded a year ago and relies on donations to rescue dogs and cats adopted by American military personnel in Iraq. It has flown more than 50 dogs and cats to the United States.

Gwen Beberg, whose saw her duty in Iraq extended, is supposed to return to the United States in the coming months. When she tried to get Ratchet to her parents’ home in Spring Lake Park, a superior officer confiscated the dog on the way to the airport.

The case, through coverage by the mainstream media and intrepid dog bloggers, prompted a “firestorm of interest” on the Internet, the Star-Tribune said. By Wednesday afternoon, petitions demanding clemency for the dog had been signed by more than 50,000 people around the world, and the pup’s story was posted on almost 27,000 websites.

In addition to the petitions, supporters called congressional offices and Army headquarters this week demanding that something be done to save the dog.

The offices of Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., also pushed for the dog’s release. Northwest Airlines has offered to fly Ratchet from Kuwait to Minneapolis.

(Photo courtesy SPCA International)

Photoshop CS6 Extended includes more than one computer together.