In response to recent incidents, Qantas announced on Friday that it will place a temporary ban on new freight bookings for snub-nosed dogs. The ban is expected to remain in place while the airline reviews it equipment and procedures around animal transportation, developed with the RSPCA.
Qantas Freight’s Chief Customer Officer Nick McGlynn said the airline wanted to balance the ability for owners to travel with their pets while ensuring animal welfare.
“We already have special procedures in place for these vulnerable breeds and the simple thing for us would have been to introduce a blanket ban,” he said.
“We know many owners love to take their pets with them when they travel, so we’re designing a way to help reduce the risks that are inherent with these particular breeds.”
The airline already has a policy of limiting flights for snub-nosed breeds for health and safety reasons. Brachycephalic (or snub-nosed) breeds are far more susceptible to heat exhaustion and breathing abnormalities, which can be exacerbated by travelling if certain precautions aren’t taken.
For that reason, the airline limits flights for boxers, pugs and bulldogs to five hours, and requires owners to sign a waiver for one of these breeds to be flown any further.
More than 40,000 pets are flown across Qantas’ domestic network every year, including some 2,000 snub nosed dogs.
The ban comes after a woman blamed Qantas for the death of her boxer, Duke, last month.
Kay Newman claimed her beloved pet died after being left for more than an hour in extreme heat on the tarmac at Sydney Airport on December 19.
As she waited to board her flight at the gate, she became distressed to see through the window that Duke had been left to wait on the tarmac under the baking sun.
Despite Qantas staff assuring her Duke was fine as she boarded her flight, Ms Newman received the heartbreaking news on landing in Brisbane – Duke hadn’t survived the flight.
“I was beside myself. All I could do was scream ‘No, no, no,” she said.
Ms Newman’s heartbreaking post on Facebook garnered over 600,000 views, as she detailed what happened to her poor dog.
Another Qantas passenger was left heartbroken when he arrived at Melbourne airport last week, only to be told his beloved bulldog, Frank, had died mid-flight.
“I dropped to the floor, they had to carry me out of the airport,” passenger Anthony Balletta told news.com.au.
A Qantas spokesman told news.com.au a review of the incident had found Frank had not been mishandled.
“We can understand for Mr Balletta and his family that what’s occurred is very distressing,” the spokesman said.
“An investigation found there were no issues on-board the aircraft or during the journey with all procedures followed.”
BREEDS AT RISK
Snub-nosed dogs are dogs with shorter snouts, and include:
• French Bulldogs
• Shih Tzu
• Boston Terrier
• Japanese Chin
• some Mastiffs
• Griffon Bruxellios
These breeds do not breathe as efficiently as dogs with longer snouts do, and take longer to cool off when they are overheated. Therefore, the changes in temperature and air quality in planes can make them especially vulnerable to stress and overheating.
AIRLINE FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS
Since breed restrictions can change abruptly and are different for every airline, passengers are encouraged to check with their airline for the latest information when travelling with pets.
Some airlines do not allow flying for snub-nosed breeds at any time, including:
• United Airlines
• American Airlines
• Alaska Air
• Swiss Air
The international airlines with seasonal restrictions include Emirates Air – they will accept pugs and most other snub-nosed breeds only in the winter months, from October 1st through April 30th. However, it is ultimately up to the airline’s discretion on a case-by-case basis. Lufthansa, Etihad, Gulf Air, and Copa also fly snub-nosed breeds in the winter months or under certain temperature conditions only.