Another airline bans ‘flat-faced’ animals from flying

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 27 January 2020

Virgin Australia is the latest airline to ban flat-faced or brachycephalic animals from flying. The announcement was made on Friday and the airline stated that ‘as of 24 January 2020, Virgin Australia will no longer accept bookings for brachycephalic breeds (also known as snub-nosed breeds, which includes cross breeds) until further notice’.

According to the Daily Mail Australia, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said that ‘the company had seen a ‘tragic spike” in issues across the industry when transporting snub-nosed breeds, prompting a review.’

Animals that fall into this category struggle both with breathing and with regulating their body temperatures.

‘These flat-faced or “brachycephalic” breeds are at particularly high risk as their extreme features mean they often struggle to breathe and regulate their body temperature effectively – even in mild conditions, let alone at the hottest times of the year, or on a plane,’ RSPCA scientific officer Sarah Zito told the publication.

‘Heat stress and heatstroke are both very real risks for dogs,’ says Australia’s RSPCA.

According to the British Veterinary Association, brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds, such as Pekingese, pugs, bulldogs, and King Charles Spaniels, ‘have become increasingly popular in recent years’. ‘However, many owners aren’t aware that the “cute” way they look can cause serious and often life-limiting health problems and compromise their welfare.’

‘Anatomical defects of the upper airway [cause] breathing difficulties often associated with overheating, sleep apnoea, and regurgitation.’

In addition to dogs, several cat breeds like the Scottish fold, Persian, Burmese and Himalayan, as well as rabbits such as the Netherland dwarf and lionhead also fall into the short-nosed category.

‘The inherent risks to these flat-faced breeds are unfortunately so great, that even with the best care, we believe transporting them by air is simply too dangerous,’ said Sarah Zito.

In the USA, Delta Airlines banned bulldogs from flying on hot days after six of them died in 2010. American Airlines also banned brachycephalic dogs after a number of deaths and a 2006 lawsuit after a two-year-old bulldog died in its care, according to a report by The Globe and Mail.

A survey taken by the American Department of Transportation found that 122 dogs died during flights between 2005 and 2010 and, of those, half were brachycephalic breeds.

Image: Pixabay






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