Qantas will not be transporting certain breeds of dogs after two animals died while travelling with the carrier last month alone.
The airline announced on Friday a “temporary suspension” would be placed on carrying snub-nosed dog breeds including boxers, bull dogs and pugs, as it worked with the RSPCA to develop longer-term rules.
A bulldog named Frank died while travelling from Sydney to Melbourne in December, and a boxer dog named Duke died during a flight from Sydney to Brisbane.
As the airline works to lay out new regulations, owners hoping to travel interstate with a snub-nosed dog will need to fly with a different carrier.
The airline revealed it was likely to enforce rules requiring snub-nosed dogs to be cleared to fly by a registered vet immediately prior to travel.
It also said customers would be recommended to use registered animal shipping companies, who have vets based at major capital city airports.
The airline was looking into providing further tarmac protection for vulnerable breeds in extreme weather, and reinforcing existing procedures designed to minimise the time animals are required to spend on the tarmac prior to being loaded.
Any changes would not apply to non snub-nosed breeds, and existing bookings would not be effected by the temporary suspension, the airline said.
“As a further precaution, a temporary suspension will be placed on new freight bookings for snub-nosed dogs until these additional procedures are finalised. This is expected to take approximately two weeks,” a statement read.
Qantas Freight’s Chief Customer Officer Nick McGlynn said the airline was in the process of “designing a way to help reduce the risks that are inherent with these particular breeds”.
“These types of dogs are hugely popular but unfortunately they are high-risk flyers due to their respiratory system and breathing problems,” Mr McGlynn said.
“The risk is even higher in hot conditions and this summer we’ve seen a tragic spike in deaths of snub-nose dogs in extreme weather.”
RSPCA Australia’s Senior Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Zito supported Qantas in its move to address the risks associated with transporting brachycephalic dogs by air.
“Brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds face particularly high risks from air transport especially during summer months. Their extreme features mean they often struggle to breathe and regulate their body temperature effectively, even in mild conditions, let alone at the hottest times of the year or on a plane,” Dr Zito said.
“We’re very pleased to see Qantas building upon their existing policies to acknowledge and work toward addressing these risks.”
Qantas Freight already recommends snub-nosed breeds be transported at temperatures below 20 degrees, and the airline allows owners to rebook their dog in the event of extreme weather.
More than 40,000 pets are flown across Qantas’ domestic network every year, including some 2,000 snub nosed dogs.
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