Delta Air Lines bans bulldogs due to health concerns

Bulldogs are on the no-fly list at Delta, after a report last year by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) highlighted a higher incidence of in-flight deaths for the breed.

The bulldog ban was recently announced, when Delta reported two dog deaths during flights, according to DOT.

Delta officials say the decision to ban bulldogs was the result of a review of animal incidents over the last year.

In 2010, a total of 39 animal deaths were reported by all airlines, with Delta reporting 16 incidents, followed by American Airlines and Continental with six deaths each. Necropsy reports revealed food aspiration or asphyxia as the primary causes of death in those cases.

Half of all dogs that died on commercial flights from 2005 to 2009 were short-nosed breeds, DOT adds. In fact, the government agency requires airlines to file monthly reports on animal deaths and injuries. Over the reporting period, a total of 122 dog deaths were filed, including 25 English Bulldogs and 11 Pugs.

Breathing problems and other genetic factors are believed to contribute to the higher mortality rates of these breeds on flights, DOT says.

Over that reporting period, Continental reported the highest number of animal deaths (53), but according to the DOT, numbers have improved since instituting a “bulldog embargo” in the summer of 2009, prohibiting all types of bulldogs and some other short-nosed breeds, from flight. Since fall 2009, however, Continental allowed bulldogs back on board, restricting travel when temperatures are above 85 degrees.

Other airlines with restrictions on bulldog transportation include American Airlines—which stopped carrying short-nosed breeds last fall— and AirTran Airways. Southwest now only flies pets that fit in carriers under passenger seats.

Delta, in addition to its bulldog ban, will stop transporting other short-nosed breeds and cats when temperatures exceed 75 degrees.

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