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Over half of all airline-related pet deaths last year occurred on Delta Airlines, according to a report from the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Agency, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Of the 35 pets that died in-flight in 2011, 19 were on Delta flights. A spokesman for Delta said, “The loss of any pet is unacceptable to us. We are working to improve the process and procedures to ensure that every pet arrives safely at its destination.” According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, Delta’s spokesman went on to explain that the reason deaths on their airline are so high is because of Delta’s vast route network, that the number of deaths or injuries to dogs on their flights is less than 0.2% of all of those that fly on their planes.
The most recent procedure change by Delta happened last December when the airline banned “short-faced” or brachycephalic dogs, like Boston Terriers or French Bulldogs from traveling in the cargo hold (the checked luggage section) of their planes. Since dogs use breathing to regulate their body temperatures, the shorter faced dogs were the most common type dying in-flight, unable to regulate their body temperatures and prone to respiratory distress.
Letting your dog fly in the cargo hold of ANY plane, not just Delta’s, is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly. Many dogs do just fine in-flight and arrive safely at their destination, but is this a chance you’re willing to take? If not, maybe a pets-only airline is the better choice. At PetAirways, dogs are transported in the cabin, never in the cargo hold, where a flight attendant gives them personal attention and care, checking on them every 15 minutes through the flight.
I would never put my dog in any situation that I, personally, wouldn’t be comfortable with – well, with the exception of walking on a leash – and the thought of packing him up with my luggage to spend several hours in misery, whether he arrived safely or not, is not an option for me.
Have you ever flown your dog in a plane’s cargo hold? Please, share your experience with us.