There's a new requirement for flyers who want to bring their Fido along: A snout.
More and more airlines in the United States are barring cats and dogs with pushed-up noses from flying, according to a report in the New York Times. ( Canadian airlines have not yet enacted such a ban.)
The ban is not because of the brachycephalic breeds' bite or bark, it's because of their cute, but problematic, scrunched-up faces. Their snub-noses make breathing much more difficult and potentially fatal when the pooch is stressed out and hot – like when it's in a kennel in an airplane's cargo space, sitting on the tarmac in 30 C heat.
In fact, the ban is a result of deaths. Delta Airlines banned bulldogs from flying on hot days after six of them died in 2010. American Airlines has also banned bracycephalic dogs after a number of deaths and a 2006 lawsuit after a two-year-old bulldog died in its care.
An article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association quotes a Department of Transportation survey that found 122 dogs have died during flights between 2005 and 2010. Half of the deaths were brachycephalic breeds, which includes pugs, all bulldog types, boxers, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzu and King Charles Spaniels.
"Brachycephalic dogs have trouble breathing under the best circumstances," wrote veterinarian Eric Barchas in response to the journal article. "The take-home message is clear: brachycephalic dogs are at increased risk when travelling in the cargo hold."
So what's a dog owner to do if they have to travel cross travel with their four-legged friend? Road trip?
Not everyone has the time for that. So business-savvy opportunists have pounced on a chance to fill a niche market. For a few hundred dollars, you send Rover on Pet Airlines, where he can be his own "pawsenger". On this "pet-only" flight, the animal is still in its kennel but is kept in a climate-controlled cabin and monitored throughout the flight by pet attendants.
For French bulldog owner Rusty Rueff, it's worth the price.
"If he throws up or gets sick or goes bonkers, there's going to be a human being there," Mr. Rueff told the New York Times. "That makes it worth it for us; we're paying for peace of mind."
Would you pay for a pet-only flight? Or should pets with breathing problems just be left at home?