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04 August 2010

Seven Puppies Die after American Airlines Flight

3 August 2010; Chicago, IL: Seven puppies that had arrived from Tulsa, OK died while they were waiting for a connecting flight from Chicago. American Airlines is investigating why the puppies died, and it is unclear what role weather at Tulsa and Chicago may have played. American Airlines flight 851 left Tulsa Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Chicago at 8:54 a.m. The temperature in Tulsa was about 86 degrees Fahrenheit at 7 a.m. and 87 degrees at 8 a.m. It was cooler in Chicago, with a temperature of about 70 when the flight landed. It did not reach 80 degrees in Chicago until about 1 p.m.

There were 14 puppies of an unknown breed on the flight, and a spokesperson for American Airlines stated that the puppies were alive when the flight arrived, and were taken to an American facility at O'Hare while they waited for their connecting flight.

Previous Incidents
Since May 2005, the US Department of Transportation has required airlines to report deaths of animals during transport. From May 2005 to May 2010, 122 dogs have died in flight or while in the airline's control on the ground. Of these 122 dogs, 16 were of mixed or unknown breeds.

Temperature Limits for Animals
Airlines can't accept dogs and cats for shipment if the airline cannot prevent exposure of the animal to temperatures less than 45 degrees F (7.2 C) or more than 85 degrees F (29.5 C) for more than 45 minutes when the animal is transferred between the terminal and the plane, or for more than four hours when the animal is in a holding facility. It is unclear of the high temperature limits were exceeded either in Tulsa or Chicago.

Additional Information provides extensive advice for traveling by air with your pet, including guidelines on what pets are allowed in the passenger cabin, rules on service animals in the cabin, and common airline restrictions for transporting animals in the cabin or in the cargo compartment.

Photo credit: jmatthew3

Note: The pugs in the photo were not the puppies on the flight, but short-snouted breeds like pugs represented about half the purebred dogs in the DOT list of dogs that died in the airline's custody.

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