Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Vets flag trauma concerns after death of dog during air travel

Kolkata: The death of a dog on a flight has led veterinary doctors to raise concerns about the trauma and discomfort pets face during air travel.

A two-year-old Chow Chow, which was being flown to Mumbai on an Air-India flight for treatment on Saturday, was found dead on arrival. But a golden retriever, which was on the same flight, was fine. “Different breeds of dogs react differently. Chow Chow is a special breed that needs extreme care. Considering the dog was unwell, the airline should have been more careful and spoken to vets about his vulnerability and cancelled the reservation. The owners should also have been extra cautious and avoided air travel during summer, considering breeds like Chow Chow undergo extreme trauma and dehydration on strenuous flights,” said Subir Bhattacharya, a veterinary surgeon in Kolkata.

The distraught owners of the pet, Gultu, have lodged a police complaint against the airline that had certified the dog fit for travel. The family said they were taking their pet to Mumbai for an urgent eye surgery that vets in Kolkata had refused to perform amid the pandemic. The travel plan was finalised on a short notice, which forced them to book a flight. The dog was put in the cargo on a Rs 14,000 ticket, twice the passenger fare.

According to owner Pratyusha Banerjee, before the dog was handed to AI Cargo, he was jumping around. Officials had assured her of taking utmost care of her pet and that the cargo hold had oxygen supply and AC. Banerjee said the landing in Mumbai was a hard one, followed by one-and-a-half hours of confusion. On reaching the domestic cargo facility after one-and-a-half hours, she was told her dog was dead.

An Air India spokesperson said the death could have been due to trauma on flight. Two dogs were in the cargo hold of Flight AI 676 that day. While one arrived fit and fine, the other died, he said.

16/06/21 Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India

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