People planning to travel by air with their pets beware. The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a new warning stating that “short-faced” dogs are at greater risk to die during flights. In fact, the agency reports that breeds such as pit bulls, bulldogs and pugs accounted for approximately half of the air cargo canine fatalities during the last five years. “ That’s a significantly higher mortality rate than for other dog breeds.”
While DOT spokesman Bill Mosley declined to give a reason for this, it is a well-known veterinary fact that these breeds often suffer with respiratory ailments due to their facial structures and, may not be able to handle the temperature extremes in the cargo holds of jets very well because “ their short snouts do not warm or cool air before it enters their lungs as well as longer snouts do.”
In addition to dogs, the Department of Transportation has reported that “22 other types of pets have died during flight on U.S. airliners since 2005.” These have included both birds and cats, as well as other animals. In addition approximately 55 pets were injured, while 33 were lost at airports since 2005.
If your dog must fly, there are some safety measures you should take to make them more secure. Remember, this is an extremely frightening and stressful ordeal for any pet, and it may be wise to give them an approved sedative to keep them calm:
* Have your vet check him out several days before departure to make sure he is healthy enough to fly, and that all shots are current. You will also need to obtain a health certificate to give to the airlines.
* Make sure you get a USDA approved shipping crate and that it is big enough for the dog to be able to stand up in, as well as turn around. Then line the bottom with soft bedding that can also absorb any kind of “accidents.”
*Provide food and water, making sure they are in secure containers that won’t “fly-around” and possibly hurt the animal. It is also a good idea to provide a favorite toy for comfort.
* Be sure to label the crate on all sides with the “Live Animal” in large visible letters, and draw easy to read arrows to indicate the upright position of the crate. Also include your name, address, phone number, your dog’s name, destination, and whether or not you will be on the flight (if not, specify who will be picking your pet up). It is also a good idea to attach a current photo of your pet to the top of the container in case it gets out. The dog should also have proper ID tags attached to its collar.
*Make sure you know where and when your dog can be picked up once the flight arrives at its destination. It is also a good idea to alert airline personnel (both on the plane and at the terminal) that your pet is onboard so they can keep an eye on him.