October 08, 2011

Flying with a pug

The Times reports today that more and more Airlines put restrictions on transporting trachycephalic, or short-faced, breeds (from the Greek words for 'head'), such as pugs or  bulldogs. 
According to the federal Agriculture Department, 189 animals died on commercial flights from June 2005 to June 2011; of those animals, 98 — more than half — were brachycephalic breeds. The breeds, which also include Persian and Himalayan cats, have smaller openings to their noses and elongated soft palates on the roofs of their mouths, which make breathing more difficult for them, veterinarians said. Those breathing problems can be magnified in stressful situations like air travel, and further exacerbated in extreme heat.
Some veterinarians will not allow those dogs to fly at all, others may perform surgery to elongate the dog's nasal passages. What's a dog owner to do? Either you accept these restrictions and just don't fly with your dog (according to the Times article, the Bulldog Club of America recommends that its members travel by car) or you use an airline that allows dogs to travel in the cabin, such as Pet Airways or Pet Jet (a domestic one-way flight is around $850). Option #3: If your pet is really famous (like the Target mascot dog, Bullseye), you can get him or her classified as a “high-profile animal,” and then he or she can fly in the cabin -- first class only. You always knew that there's a price to fame.