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United Airlines Ban Over 40 Dog and Cat Breeds in New Pet Guidelines

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After just recently, the death of a dog aboard a United Airlines flight caused a maelstrom of criticism online, the big carrier will now ban specific breeds of cats and dogs from flying.

On last Tuesday the airline announced an update to its travel guidelines. It contained a list of over 40 breeds of dogs and certain cats that won’t be allowed in the cargo hold of United Airlines flights “out of concern for adverse health risks,”.

With this change, United will only accept the rest of cat and dog breeds in their cargo holds and won’t carry any other types of animals there.

The changes take effect from June 18. It will ban certain short-nosed or snub-nosed dog breeds like pugs, Boston terriers and French bulldogs (the breed of the dog that died in March). Bigger dogs with stronger jaws also won’t be able to fly anymore – American pitbull, the Dogue de Bordeaux, one of 16 types of mastiffs, and the Belgian Malinois.

From the cat breeds, Persian, Himalayan, Burmese and exotic shorthair cats won’t be able to fly any longer.

“We are doing this to further minimize risk and ensure the comfort of pets we fly,” Charles Hobart, a spokesman for United Airlines, told People. “We flew all sorts of animals. Geese, foxes, leopards, you name it, we pretty much flew it. That will change moving forward. We’ll only fly dogs and cats as pets that belong to our customers.”

United Airlines updated their news thanks to assistance and guidance from American Humane.

Chris Populus, 8, sees off the family dog, Dodger. A United Airlines employee loads the dog for its flight to New York from John Wayne Airport. (Julia Cheng / Los Angeles Times)

“Certain breeds have unique respiratory challenges due to the anatomy of their noses and throats, and are more prone to risk when under stress or exposed to other environmental changes,” United Airlines explained in an email to NPR.

“American Humane will be performing a top-to-bottom examination of every aspect of air travel affecting the health and welfare of animals, and making recommendations for changes and adjustments to United’s service,” the email said.

United will also stop flying animals to certain locations between May 1 and Sept 30. These include Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Calif., and Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. This is done to prevent deaths from overheating in the summer months.

The airline is still reviewing policies about animals traveling in the cabin. This is their current position on the topic:

United allows domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits and household birds (excluding cockatoos) to travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin on most flights within the U.S. An in-cabin pet may be carried in addition to a carry-on bag and is subject to a $125 service charge each way. …

Emotional support and psychiatric service animals are still accepted in the cabin for qualified individuals with a disability, as long as they can provide certain information and documentation in advance.

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