Aviation News

April 14, 2011

In Wake of Delta’s Bulldog Ban, 7 Tips for Flying With Your Pet This Summer

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By: Matt Molnar
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Effective immediately, Delta Air Lines has banned all breeds of bulldogs from all Delta and Delta Connection flights, citing the high death rate for the animals during transport.

Flying bulldog

A study by the world’s largest airline found that of the 16 pets that died in Delta custody in 2010, six of them were bulldogs, higher than any other type of animal. The carrier had previously restricted the dogs, and many other other breeds, from flying to or from airports experiencing temperatures of 75 degrees or higher. The new ban applies to all flights. “Delta will no longer accept the American, English or French bulldogs for transport regardless of their age and/or weight on any Delta or Delta Connection flights,” according to a statement on their website. American Airlines had already banned the breeds in January while many airlines, such as Southwest and JetBlue, only allow smaller pets that can fit in a carrier to be placed under your seat.

So what is it that makes bulldogs more vulnerable than other pets to flying? According to Dr. Matt Brunke, a veterinarian at Shaker Veterinary Hospital in Latham, New York, it boils down to certain breathing problems encountered by many bulldogs, combined with the stressful and harsh conditions sometimes experienced in flight.

“Bulldogs, along with pugs and other snub nose breeds are prone to brachycephalic syndrome, a condition characterized by narrow nostrils and an elongated soft palate, among other malformations in the larynx and trachea,” says Brunke. “This can be affect their ability to breathe normally, often causing them to breathe loudly or snore, and can lead to inflammation and a narrowing of their airways, making it difficult to breathe.”

Furthermore, according to Brunke, “Humidity, stress and other factors,” i.e. the conditions often experienced inside an aircraft cargo compartment, “can make this a potentially life threatening problem. Some of these conditions can be surgically corrected to maximize the pet’s ability to breathe.”

Some of Dr. Brunke’s tips for transporting any pet:
1. Minimize the length of each leg of your journey

2. Plan your trip to try and avoid your pet being in the crate for long periods during the hottest part of the day

3. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian prior to travel and discuss with them your pet’s specific risks and concerns

4. Speak with your airline about the possibility of being able to take your dog out of its crate during a long layover

5. Get your pet used to its travel crate weeks in advance

6. Some airlines will let you provide a water source in the crate, such as a spill proof bowl. Some small pets can be trained to drink from a large bottle, like those commonly used for a rabbits or guinea pigs

7. Only travel with your pet if absolutely necessary. They can also be happy staying home with friends or family or boarding at a nice facility