Airlines allow service dogs on planes

Those who love their animals shouldn't fly with them

Flights are a great physical strain for animals. Extreme breeding in particular is at risk.

Animal deaths on board aircraft are mostly isolated cases. But if they do occur, they are dramatic for the owners. So also for June Lara, who flew with her French bulldog "Kokito" on Monday with United Airlines from Houston to New York. According to Lara, flight attendants insisted on locking the puppy in the overhead locker for three hours, which it did not survive. United Airlines apologized and spoke of a "tragic accident". The flight attendants were not aware that there was a dog in the bag. The Harris County Attorney's Office in the state of Texas has opened an investigation into the case.

Time and again, cases like this cause public interest. Almost a year ago, the giant rabbit Simon died on a United Airlines transatlantic flight. Of a good 500,000 animals transported by American airlines, 24 did not survive the flight. While airlines in the USA have been legally obliged to keep records of incidents since 2005, there is no such information in Switzerland.

Whether dog, cat or rabbit - veterinarians advise against flying with animals. Some airlines, including Swiss, allow animals in transport bags with a total weight of no more than eight kilos on board. But for them, the unfamiliar environment with many new impressions means one thing above all else: stress, which can strain the circulation and breathing. Extreme breeds, including bulldogs, are particularly at risk. According to the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, dogs with a very short nasal skull (extreme short-headedness or "brachycephaly") have to breathe more intensely in order to regulate their body temperature. Therefore, there is a greater risk for them when flying.

There are fewer stimuli in dark cargo holds, and when animals fly with them, the temperature there is adjusted accordingly. Good preparation is also important: the animal should be used to the transport box, lie comfortably in it and be able to get air without any problems.