Best Friends Blog

French bulldog airline tragedy raises questions and ideas

Woman wearing a Save Them All sweatshirt holding black and white puppy with upright earsI’m not going to rehash the sad details of the French bulldog puppy who died when locked in an overhead baggage bin on a United Airlines flight at the instruction of the attendant. This was a terribly sad consequence of airlines’ grudging policies regarding pets. The bigger picture is that airlines should wise up, put on their business hats, do better for pets traveling with their families and make some money doing it.

Back in the day, when the only animals allowed on planes were seeing-eye dogs, a friend of mine slapped some gauze bandages on one eye, stared blankly out of the other and, with his goofy Doberman on a six-inch lead, claimed he was his seeing-eye dog, animals who are known for their impeccable behavior. The ruse held water long enough for the plane to get off the ground and climb to altitude, but it fell apart when the Dobie leaped over the seat and took off down the aisle. Not exemplary, but the point is that people will go to great lengths to have their pets travel safely by their side on board the plane of their choice.

It’s a problem begging for a solution, and a colleague of mine came up with what I think is a great idea. Rather than obligating people to jump through hoops to get their dog, cat or even the occasional peacock on a flight, why not designate pet-friendly flights, swapping out some seats for pet crates that lock in place and selling them as upgraded seats? Money spent on pets constituted a $70 billion business in 2017. Wake up and smell the money!

Sure, there are some technicalities to figure out, but wouldn’t it be worth it to an enterprising airline and wouldn’t it be cool to take your potbellied pig along on a flight without having to claim that he is your therapist?

No one wants to put their animal family member through the stress of being locked in a baggage compartment that could accidently decompress or go unheated if the crew slips up. It’s a nightmare that many people avoid by driving rather than flying. Others go the therapist route. The bottom line is that people love their pets and would celebrate any airline that took advantage of that fact.

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Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

  • Bonny Thomas Lee RN

    Are people who are afraid of or allergic to dogs now just held hostage to aggressive individuals. The Delta incident in Atlanta-a serious attack by a so called “therapy dog” seems to matter not at all does it. A pig seated next to a human being on an airplane is “cool” Mr Batista surely you are joking with us.

    • Exhausted

      Maybe you should RE-read the article and see that he is plainly calling for designated animal friendly flights. And that tactic of bringing up issues that aren’t mentioned in a short blog and then accusing the person that it “matters not at all” is so tiring, petty and plainly immature.

    • Hillary Bayne

      By aggressive individuals do you mean by sending them unwarranted and unsolicited mail you just sign people up for? Clearly you need to read the article better and no I’m not looking for your information and if you solicit mail to my address I will use it for toilet paper and fire starter because frankly that’s all it’s good for.

      • Dude

        OMG, I forgot that she is the one that admitted she does that. Talk about creepy. And creepy that she actually scours the internet looking for people’s addresses to send them unsolicited mail! Wow…just wow.

        • Amy

          Oh…yes.. the one who stalks personal addresses on the internet. She is SUPER CREEPY

          • Jennifer Bishop

            when you are so unpleasant in real life that none of your family or friends will associate with you, i would imagine you would stoop to such levels. pathetic, isnt it?

        • Jennifer Bishop

          i know right… she is proud of her stalking. talk about unhinged.

      • Bonny Thomas Lee RN

        Thank you all for writing..always good to hear from the “Pit Bull Advocacy” folks…a “surreal movement” in America as they are described by more than one journalist.Ms Bayne, please send me your address as I volunteer for two organizations concerned with dog attack victims, we do not want to send mail to folks who are uninterested in children, elderly & other peoples pets killed by your favored breed. Thank you and will watch for your email and remove from our mailings. Best..Bonny

      • Jennifer Bishop

        well we all know her and her co-minions are not know for their reading comprehension skills….
        it completely flew over her head that the blog is suggesting animal friendly flights. that would mean that those who did not wish to be on a flight with animals, such as those with allergies, phobias ect could choose to book flights that did not accommodate animals at all…of course when all you focus on is trying to interject your obsession with pit bulls in to any and all conversations you often miss the actual point and make a clown of yourself in the process.

    • Amy

      Ms, Bonny Lee,

      You are missing the point..this is about capitalism. Airlines that want to cater to pet lovers can do so. Those that hate dogs can fly on the less “pet friendly” airlines. Hotels are already doing this.

      Amy Cravey, RN

  • Brenda Fluharty

    This is a great idea. Its important to remember size as well, you can take an animal on a train to Florida but the weight restrictions are 30 lbs.. Even if you have a room on a train you are not permitted to have anything larger than the 30 lbs. limit. I would jump at the chance to travel with my lab!

  • Judy Saltzmann Tarr

    Agreed 100x over! When I flew with my chihuahua to Florida, I purchased a first class seat to get the extra under seat room. Costly, but I would do anything to keep Charlie safe. And I think most pet owners would do the same.

  • Mark Matthews

    is that little black and white border collie in the photo available to adopt??

    • Francis Battista

      Sorry, i don’t know, but I suggest you check on our adoption pages for the sanctuary, or our Salt Lake NKUT program.

  • Cheryl Arnold

    Great idea! I would pay more to ensure my pet’s safety. And I know many of my friends would too. They are an integral part of our families and sometimes the children for us. This was a tragic situation and I feel so bad for the poor family.

  • Marisol Portalatin Guzmán

    I think it’s a wonderful idea. Now let’s see what airline is going to go first.