It is a pet owners worst nightmare and after five deaths both Qantas and Virgin Australia have pulled the plug on transporting ‘snub’ nosed dogs.
A Shar Pei, French Mastiff and British Bulldog cross, died during a four-hour flight from Darwin to Brisbane. Two other snub-nosed dogs have died on Qantas flights within the last month, including a six year old boxer, reportedly left on the tarmac in extreme heat, and a one-year-old bulldog which died during a flight from Sydney to Melbourne. Virgin will indefinitely ban boxers, bulldogs and pugs from its flights following the death of two dogs in transit last month.
It’s known that snub-nosed breeds are prone to respiratory issues and breathing problems, making them “high-risk flyers” – particularly in hot weather. One Qantas passenger claimed her Bulldog was left on the tarmac in 39C heat for over an hour and subsequently died.
Australia has been hit by week after week of heat waves with temperatures in some states exceeding 45C.
The Royal Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (RSPCA) welcomed the airline’s ban but warned snub-nosed dogs were not physically equipped to fly on planes in any circumstance.
“The RSPCA believes the inherent risks to these flat-faced breeds are unfortunately so great, that even with the best care, we believe transporting them by air is simply too dangerous,” said the spokeswoman.
“We would urge owners to avoid flying these breeds at all if possible, and if air travel is considered absolutely necessary, owners should speak to their vet and be very aware of the dangers.”
Key among the changes suggested by both airlines include requiring a sign-off from a vet before snub-nosed breeds can travel giving them the final say. More than 40,000 pets are flown across Qantas’ domestic network every year, including some 2,000 snub nosed dogs.