Grounded: Bulldogs Banned on Many Airlines Due to Death Risk

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With a face so cute, who could resist a bulldog? The airlines can, apparently.

That’s right, the pups are the latest in the no-fly zone. Along with knives and toxic liquids, bulldogs and other snub-nosed pets simply won’t fly with the airlines.

Their short noses supposedly give them breathing problems, especially when flying in the cargo hold of airplanes. And the numbers prove why man’s best friend is not a friend of the airlines: between June 2005 and June 2011, 189 animals died on commercial flights, according to the U.S. Deparment of Agriculture. More than half that number, 98 animals, were of the snub-nosed (brachycephalic for the more technical among you) variety, the New York Times reports.

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Earlier this year, Delta banned bulldogs from flying, along with a number of other pets with noticeably short noses: pugs, chow chows, boxers, pit bulls and even Himalayan and Persian cats are not allowed to fly as cargo. United forbids those breeds during the hot summer months. And American won’t even accept mutts of snub-nosed breeds. Most airlines don’t allow on-board pets weighing more than 20 lbs. So what’s the owner of a cute bulldog to do?

Naturally, enter the old staple of America, capitalism. A number of pet-friendly airlines have cropped up to solve the pooches’ travel woes. Pet Airways will fly those kept grounded by the airlines’ restrictions – they say they’ll even take pigs! Each animal is cared for in the main cabin as a ticketed “Pawsenger” (their words, not ours) and checked on every 15 minutes.

A fair warning to furry flyers: the price can be much more than the average human would pay. The Times notes a cross-country flight cost $840 each way. But at least they probably get better snacks on board.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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