The news about the death of 38 bulldogs was publicized thanks to the dog handler Abby Lorenzen. Abby was astonished by what she has seen, and then tens of thousands of people around the world became shocked too. And no wonder: based on data from the American Department of Transportation, fewer animals die on flights of all US airlines per year than died during this flight.
Ukraine’s international airlines have already announced a temporary embargo on the transport of live pets.
What caused the death of puppies?
The reasons for the death of animals have not yet been fully established - UIA is awaiting a report from the Canadian Veterinary Service. According to the preliminary version, puppies died of suffocation. But there are too many unknown pages in this story, so it’s extremely difficult to judge how it really was.
In total, more than 500 pets were transported to Canada, but not the fact that they were all puppies. The Canadian media write that there were about 200 French bulldogs. This number of puppies for transportation clearly indicates a commercial shipment. No nursery can make such a large supply. And this means that we are not talking about the deceased family member of one of the Ukrainians, but about the losses for the businessman.
There were only 300 cells in the cargo compartment of the UIA plane. That is, two dogs were transported in one cell. By the way, this can be seen in some shots from the Canadian airport.
According to UIA rules, this kind of transporting is allowed if the animals are of the same species, of a similar size and weigh up to 14 kilograms. Moreover, the owner could place them in containers in three: it is allowed to do this with animals for up to 6 months.
At the same time, according to the same rules of the airline, the cage should provide the animal with the opportunity to "lie in a natural position", stand up, turn. Definitely, if this is a photo from this flight, the animals did not have enough space in such conditions. They could not move at all. Canadian journalists write, citing their sources, that the airport staff knew this very well.
French bulldogs are brachycephalic. The owners of pugs, Pekingese, griffins, French bulldogs know: such animals suffer from the heat.
However, UIA strongly denies the version that the air conditioning system did not work on board, because of which puppies could suffocate. Indeed, the “lags” in the system are more likely to cause the temperature to drop to about 50 degrees Celsius.
But if the cells were stacked in rows on top of each other, and the National Post published similar photos, the animals that were in the middle, conditioning could not save. The airline’s website states: containers must be ventilated from at least three sides. For some puppies, however, the air did not seem to get fully from either side. Also, Canadian media write that all these cells were loaded into the lower compartment of the aircraft, where air circulates poorly.
Of the other "shoals" of the company, which indicate the media - cells could also be covered with plastic bags.
Other aspects of the flight are important. In the luggage compartment, pets travel with a different load. There is no separate compartment for them. This in itself is stressful: in the turbulence zone, the box will drive, hit others. In one of the photos on social media, we see that the cells were fixed, and it was unlikely that they would "travel" throughout the department. But, again, there is no certainty in the reliability of the photograph.
One very important circumstance was indicated by a statement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Experts wrote that surviving animals suffered from dehydration, weakness, and vomiting.
Even a three-month-old puppy needs constant drinking and eating: at least 5 times a day, every 3.5 hours. Sometimes the frequency of feeding reaches 6 times. Travel time from the capital of Ukraine to Toronto is 10 hours. During all these 10 hours, the puppies did not have access to food and water. And if it is not recommended to feed the dog during the flight, it is difficult for brachycephalic dogs to survive without water.
It is forbidden to feed the animal 4 hours before departure. And we do not know whether the bulldogs were given a drink on the way to the airport, whether they walked. So the animals could die from dehydration.
We need to understand that in fact, more than 38 puppies could die as a result of this flight. It is still unknown whether sufficiently qualified assistance was provided to them, or whether some of the puppies passed away already in Canada.
Both countries are already investigating the incident. But judging by the UIA page on the social media, the incident caused much more outrage among Canadians than among Ukrainians. Of the 471 comments under the post on the transport of animals, more than 400 were from foreigners. Ukrainians in English urge foreigners not to buy UIA tickets and actively recall the owner of the company.
What no one talks about
Let UIA not control that the dogs were flying in cramped conditions; however, the sender uploaded them two by two into these containers. So first of all, the fault lies with the sender.
Animal rights activist Angelika Komarova, head of the Union of Free Journalists - Nature Above public organization, considers resellers who earn money from such huge shipments of dogs to be guilty in the situation.
“Commerce on animals always carries such “costs.” For the supplier, the losses are small. I don’t mind people breeding - this is also an important part of the culture. If it was about arranging two or three puppies in a more comfortable country for life, Canada, you could even take them in the cabin. But living things are treated as goods. People of this mindset cannot understand that the animal is also endowed with the soul. What if their children were transported in the luggage compartment?” Komarova notes.
French bulldogs are popular in Canada: there you can bargain for about 3-4,000 dollars. UIA representatives themselves write that this business is one of the most competitive and high-margin ones. Whether customers know about the conditions and where the dogs are brought from is unknown.
If the transportation of one cage cost 100 EUR, and 200 puppies flew, then the savings amounted to 10,000 EUR. Most likely, the carrier suspected that several puppies could die in the flight, which would cause him losses in total by about the same 10,000. But the puppies might not have died, so the risk was worth it. Especially if more than 200 of this "party" of 500 animals were actually French bulldogs.
But in the end, the reseller lost at least 114,000 euros due to his negligence. It was unlikely that he could have imagined that the losses would be so significant.
The owner of the puppies knew that they would be on the plane for 14 hours without food and water but deliberately went for it. In addition, sedatives could be given to dogs. They lower the pressure, which can be fatal in a plane.
In addition, the insulation in the luggage compartment is very poor. In fact, there is no urgent need for it, because people are not there. Some animals die from a heart attack, others are so stressed after a flight that they break out and run away on the autobahn, or freeze in fear from every sound. Animal senders understand this.
In addition, although according to the rules for transporting animals, each of them must leave the country with a veterinary passport, in practice this does not mean at all that initially they were all healthy while departing. Veterinarians check only vaccination certificates, information about treatment against parasites, temperature. Naturally, they do not conduct any cardiogram or X-ray.
Under what conditions could 200 animals be kept? Often these are boxes that stand on top of each other in garages. Puppies bark and, to drown out the sounds, these boxes are covered with old rugs. On the day of departure, the temperature exceeded +31 degrees with optimal for dogs at +27 degrees.
Puppy factories in Eastern Europe are thriving because they easily circumvent all bans. So puppies grow in unacceptable conditions.
UIA posts prove that the blame on these incidents lies on the curators of such a business. The company reported that neither the senders nor the recipients made any claims. They probably did not want to draw attention to their business: official complaints would mean publicity.
Consequences for UIA
Why did the company initially assume such a high responsibility by placing such a large number of animals in the luggage compartment? Indeed, many other companies generally refuse to transport brachycephalic dogs.
to company estimates, its losses in quarantine amounted to about 60 million USD. UIA has asked the state for a cheap 50 million stable loan, but it was refused. So, according to the vice president of the company for commercial matters, Serhiy Fomenko, UIA will be trying to struggle with this crisis for more than one year.
"According to international and Ukrainian legislation, Ukrainian carrier that is responsible for this incident. It had to check the condition of the animals. If they were alive according to veterinary documents, then their further condition is its responsibility," says the lawyer Rostyslav Kravets.
It is not surprising that at UIA for a long time they did not recognize the fact of the death of animals, they justified themselves by the fact that all necessary certificates were available for such transportation. Representatives of the company also recalled how they transported dogs from Ukrainian shelters "for adoption" to Canada for free. Once the company's employees badly closed the leopard's cage, and the animal got out of it and pissed on the passengers' suitcases.
The companies usually conceal the animal’s deaths on board, accurate statistics on such incidents do not exist. Some cases are made public only through publicity in the press. Approximate data is owned by the American Department of Transportation. Since 2005, it has recorded more than 400 cases of death, injury or loss of animals through the fault of US airlines.
How to ensure a safe flight of an animal
In this tragic incident, one thing pleases: such stories will force animal owners to be more responsible and attentive to the conditions of their transportation.
UIA only carries dogs and cats of the passengers. So your iguana will either have to stay home or look for another carrier. But the low-cost airlines that fly from Ukraine basically refuse to accept such “baggage” at all.
The U.S. Animal Welfare Society does not recommend transporting animals on an airplane unless absolutely necessary. And UIA after the incident altogether temporarily refused to transport animals. However, how long such a ban will last is unknown.
If it is impossible to refuse carriage, try to transport it to the passenger compartment. We emphasize right away: this is not an easy task. If guide dogs and dog handlers usually fly without problems in the cabin, then this cannot be said of the other four-legged friends of a person.
You will need to first buy a ticket, and then - reserve a place for the animal a few days before departure.
It is better to completely refuse a flight with transfers - they increase the chances of a fatal outcome because in this case, animals in the luggage compartment have to wait for a connecting flight as well.
In any case, you will need a good cage with a lock, in which the animal can stand up to its full height. The bottom of the container should not leak moisture, and its weight with the dog should not exceed 10 kilograms. Ukrainian airlines recently softened this requirement, because usually in the world flights of dogs with a cage weighing up to 8 kilograms are allowed. The cage should be no more than 55x40x23 cm, waterproof, and resistant to bites.
Many companies require that even a miniature dog be muzzled when carried. Be sure to take a bottle of water for the animal to the salon, put the bowl and the thing familiar to the dog or cat in the carry. Do not forget absorbent diapers, napkins, garbage bags, gloves, medicines.
You need a veterinary certificate - form number 1, which you receive 2 days before departure. The veterinary book of the international sample duly filled out.
Although the company must compensate for the death of the animal during the flight, it is worth considering additional insurance. This significantly increases not only the chances of receiving compensation but also the ability to receive money to treat the animal after the flight (if that is, of course, needed).
Some zoodefenders propose to allocate a separate part of the cabin for animals so that the crew will look after them. Someone - run one flight a week with the ability to take animals on board, but warn allergic people about this. On the one hand, such options are commercially disadvantageous to companies, because there are not so many travelers with animals. In addition to investing in the arrangement of zones in the cabin, you will still have to spend money on the appropriate qualifications for stewards. On the other hand, companies will provide themselves with an additional influx of passengers.
Some companies already have special programs that guarantee that specialists will deal with animals. Therefore, whatever conditions the airline promises, it is up to you to decide whether to risk the life of your friend.