Pets on a Plane: Going to the Dogs?

January 12th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Should non-service animals be viable passengers in the cabin of a plane?

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The Responsibility Project

We are a nation of pet lovers, pondering responsibility. Should we clone them? "Rent them":http://www.responsibilityproject.com/blog/post/renting-a-dog-barking-up-...? "Pay dearly to extend their lives":http://www.responsibilityproject.com/blog/post/mans-best-friend/?

Now the fur is flying about another pet peeve: with the exception of service animals, is it irresponsible to bring your cat, dog, bird or rabbit along in the cabin of an airplane when you travel?

The Canadian Government is considering banning pets as carry-ons, saying passengers’ lives are at stake. “It’s a public health issue for air passengers and crew who may have asthma or severe pet allergies,” said a Lung Association spokesperson. Pets provoking asthma attacks at 40,000 feet is “a huge deal,” said a respiratory specialist. “The airlines need to ask themselves which are more important, the people or the pets.”

“It’s time to banish Fluffy and Fido to the cargo hold,” trumpeted a newspaper editorial.

But not without a dog fight. When U.S.-based Southwest Airlines announced this year it was welcoming onboard creatures instead of banning them, owners of flying felines and travelling Terriers proclaimed “Hooray!” But a howl went up from other customers. “Have you lost your minds?” one asked. “This stinks. Literally,” wrote another. “You have made planes peanut free if a customer states that they have an allergy,” one person wrote, “so I think the only fair thing to do is to set aside pet-free flights.”

Flight attendants with pooper scoopers, someone wondered? “I’ve had more bad flights from crying babies or kids kicking my seat,” another stated. One allergy sufferer took issue with others. “Whenever I encounter something that triggers one of mine, I’m prepared for it. It’s called ‘personal responsibility’ and more people should consider practicing it.” An opponent countered, “To the poster who advocated “personal responsibility” on the part of allergy sufferers—how about some on the part of pet owners?”

Tell us what you think: Is it irresponsible to bring a pet onto a plane? On flights where pets are allowed, who should bear more responsibility—pet owners or allergy sufferers?