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Bulldogs lead in risk of death on planes

Associated Press / July 17, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Bulldog and pug owners, beware: Short-snouted breeds accounted for roughly half the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, government data released yesterday show. That comes as no surprise to the owner of the University of Georgia’s famous mascot, Uga, who undergoes a special procedure before he flies.

Overall, at least 122 dog deaths were reported since May 2005, when US airlines were required to start disclosing them, the Transportation Department says. The dogs died while being shipped as cargo.

English bulldogs account for the single highest number of deaths among the 108 purebreds on the list: 25.

Pugs were next, with 11 deaths; followed by golden and Labrador retrievers, with seven deaths each; French bulldogs with six, and American Staffordshire terriers, four.

Owners should consult with veterinarians before putting their dogs on planes, the department said. It believes the deaths represent a tiny percentage of the pets shipped on airlines.

Short-nosed breeds have a skull formation that affects their airways, said Dan Bandy of Shawnee, Okla., chairman of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee.

“The way all dogs cool themselves is basically through respiration, either just panting or the action of breathing in or out, is a method of heat exchange for them,’’ Bandy said. “A dog that has a long snout or a long muzzle has more surface area within its nasal cavity for that heat exchange to take place.’’

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