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Flight Risk for Animals

Written by PETA | August 2, 2010
Pomakis / CC by 2.5

Very scary new stats released by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that dogs with short muzzles (such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers) make up about half of all dogs who have died in airplane cargo holds during the past five years. Veterinarians surmise that “respiratory issues” are to blame for these dogs’ higher death rates. Many dogs and cats who have been purposely bred for pushed-in faces have difficulty breathing and exercising even under normal circumstances.

No dog, cat, or any living being should have to endure the terror and trauma of being wedged among the baggage in a loud, dark, strange place in which they experience the unfathomable sensation of being borne aloft, far from their guardians. In order to help prevent fires, most cargo compartments are unventilated, and when systems fail, as they sometimes do, temperatures inside can quickly reach extremes of cold when the plane is in the air and extremes of heat when it’s on the tarmac. Let’s promise never to treat our animal companions like luggage and always to drive them to our destination or leave them safe at home with a trusted caretaker if they can’t fit under the cabin seat.

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post

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  • says:

    Flight Risk for Animals.. Peachy 🙂

  • Jackie says:

    I thought that the cargo area of the plane wasn’t compressed like the passenger part of the plane? Is this true? If you need to fly your pet somewhere I recommend this company They let pets fly in the main cabin of the plane and they’re really well tended to.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    About the only traveling my husband and I do is on our motorcycle. If we are in a large group with a support vechicle Buck rides in the support vechicle along with the supplies and several of his fourlegged tailwagging buddies! If we can’t take him along our upstairs neighbor is a professional petsitter so she cares for him as well as our two lovebirds. It’s all right because Buck just adores her!!

  • Greg says:

    I would never want to seduce my best buddy to being crated in the cargo but he’s too big to come onboard being a Boxer 3 i wish i could by him the seat next to me but that isn’t very courteous to the passengers who may have dog or cat allergies i haven’t heard of this Pet Airline but i’d rather have him where i can hug him cuz i know he’d freak out on a plane if i couldn’t comfort him.

  • Jay says:

    Pure bred dogs are always not as stable as mutts let them get more!

  • laura says:

    Elsa Costa I just read your post and was wondering how your Pekingese did in cabin. I just adopted a Peke and had already book a trip from Phila to Florida. I’ve been going back and forth trying to decide to take her or not in cabin of course She is a 16lb big girl and i’ve had a heck of a time finding a carrier and have been concerned about the breathing issues. Do i need to worry about the breathing in cabin? thanks so much Newly adopted by my Peke Laura

  • sue says:

    If yo have to fly your pet find an airlines that allows you to put them in a crate that you can put under your seat granted you have to have a small pet but at least you can talk to them and they are in a monitored cabin. Alaska Air lines does this.

  • Jes says:

    I have a bulldog and this is my biggest fear. We are gearing up for a move to the UK this fall….and we are sailing! Yes sailing. We were on a wait list for almost a year but I feel much better getting a week out at sea with my pup rather then shoving him in the cargo belly of a plane.

  • Mary says:

    Forty five years ago we moved from the Dominican Republic to the USA. We had our beloved Onyx a beautiful mutt and we knew we could not leave him behind to fend for himself. He had to endure the flight and the waiting like a piece of luggage in the heat who knows how much he suffered but he lived another six years of peace and love with his family. And he learned to love snow! The airlines must do something for these cases!

  • Monica de la vega says:

    Hello i am Mexican and Live in Mexico city due to my husband’s Job we ar moving to Singapur soon… Of course we are taking our standard schnauzer who is our oldest son but he is nine years and we ar worried about the trip! Any advice?

  • James says:

    Hmmm.. How about going by ship? It is still possible to take freighters overseas and I believe arrangements can be made so that your companion animals can travel in the cabinstateroom with you

  • Nina says:

    I can’t believe anyone would do that to their pet. We’re planning on going to europe probably next year for family stuff and we have a small maltesemini poodlechihuahuahes a pure mut but adorable! i would much rather leave him at my aunts place than put him in a small cage crying for hours

  • Kim says:

    There is no way that I would allow any of my cats to ride with the cargo. I’d drive them put them under the seat buy another seat on the plane or use Pet Airlines. My friend and her fiance used Pet Airlines to fly their kitty across country. The poor thing was scared but at least she was safe.

  • isadora Davis says:

    I took both my dogs to Brazil with me last time I went. I don’t trust anybody else to take care of them for me but it was very scary and nerve recking! So on the way back to the US I had to go to the doctor and ask for a letter stating that I couldn’t travel without my dog and Delta accepted it. It only works for one pet. I took my basset inside with me due to his age and my other dog still had to go under the plane with the luggage.

  • meg says:

    We are preparing to move to Hawaii but would never leave our animals behind! Thankfully we found that Continental Cargo is climate controlled for our boxers!

  • Kris says:

    Thank you so much for this article. The thought of going anywhere without my pug Yoda rips my heart out. I’ve seriously considered taking him on work trips. I’ve often thought about the conditions that he would be traveling in and of course both of our anxiety during the whole trip. Can you imagine knowing how terrified he must be and not being able to comfort him? I certainly will leave him home with his dad from now on. Thanks.

  • Enic says:

    The main problem is that airlines should be more animalfriendly because unfortunately people are forced to leave their country usually overseas and I think it is more cruel to leave your pet behind with a caregiver for good than taking Fido with you so he can continue a happy life with the owner. So in situations like these you have to take a plane with your pet and they deserve better than being cargo. Again the problem is caused by airlines and the solution should be changing their pet policy like at least creating a special compartment for pets on the plane. I think that is better than leaving your pet behind after living with himher for 5 years and having to leave your home for serious reasons and for good. Target the airlines as the cause of the problem not the owners.

  • Kate says:

    My god this is horrible. I have a 2yearold pup of my own…while she doesn’t have a “squishedin” face like the breeds mentioned she is my world and I now know that I will never make her go on a plane. Thanks PETA!

  • claudia says:

    Wow I didnt know that the transportation of animals would happen in this responsesless way?!I wonder why the company has no interest in tranporting animals in a safer way by itself?And the poor animals who are bred with pushedfaces I hope people will find out what they are doing by breeding animals with handicaps made by purpose……this just cant be real love!Love !And then do what you want……

  • A Dennis says:

    Re Flight Risk for Animals. While I agree that many people fly helpless animals across the world for selfish reasons there are also people like our family who fly our pets because they are our family. We have had our cats for over 11 years and recently learnt we are moving from the USA to Singapore. This will mean our pets will endure unnecessary testing immunizations and a long flight in a cargo hold so they can be with us. We have debated this point amongst ourselves for a while now however the thought of leaving them behind is worse than the thought of them in a plane then quarantine for 5 weeks. What should families like us do leave our beloved pets behind to be separated from us and each other and their fate unknown?

  • Sarah Murphy says:

    I’m planning to move overseas and of course bring my cat. Problem is that he’s way too large to fit under the seat. What alternative to I have to checking him as luggage? I plan to fly direct so at least he will not be “transferred” midtrip.

  • scott quakkelaar says:

    while there’s a lot of truth in what you’re saying the primary problem isn’t necessarily flying with those animals in cargo which is sometimes a necessary evil eg in the case of an overseas move. the problem is that we continue to breed these animals with deformities for the sake of our own vanity. and that’s just a start. the solution is obvious.

  • Tanya Fink says:

    I understand your comments but I have rescued 3 Singaporean stray cats from the streets and now I have the choice of abandoning them to the SPCA or taking them with me to Europe. They are my family so they are coming with me and I have no choice but to take them as cargo on the same flight which was a struggle. Please show both sides as some of us have no choice so lets lobby airlines rather than giving the choice of driving not possible Singapore to Europe. My boyfriend has gone ahead to get a car ready and to set up our flat and I feel I can do nothing more to ease their journey but still suffer with the thought of knowing they are scared. Anyways wish us luck as our journey is tomorrow.


    Please don’t mis treat your pets….. They’re like ur family members…. Vaibhhav Gupta

  • Rhyn says:

    You can actually get Pet Airlines. Thery’re not cheap granted. But the animals have a pen in which they fly in on cabin rather than in hold.