AIRLINES has dismissed reports that it is about to rescind its
unpopular ban on several breeds of so-called 'dangerous dogs',
saying the announcement made last week by the Doberman Pinscher
Club of America was "premature".
As reported in last week's OUR DOGS, Jeffrey P. Helsdon, the Legislative Director of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America broke the news, which comes from the highest sources within American Airlines to OUR DOGS, saying: "The change in AA policy comes after an initial storm of protest from the pure-bred dog fancy in general, organised in large part through the leadership of the DPCA. Over the past six months, members of the DPCA Legislative Committee have conducted confidential, high level negotiations directly with AA officers charged with the responsibility for implementing the breed profiling policy."
American Airlines introduced the breed ban on August 7th 2002,stating that the airline would no longer accept the American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers.
The ban was implemented on the advice of AA's insurers after a pit bull terrier escaped from an approved airline travel container in the hold of a 757 on a domestic flight from San Diego to New York's JFK airport. Flight personnel did not discover that the dog was free until the plane landed, and the pilot summoned the dog's owner, who was aboard the same flight, to capture the animal
According to Mr Helsdon, as a result of the DPCA's intensive, high level negotiations, AA has designed, and is about to implement, a crate securing procedure that will be used on all dog crates flying on AA flights irrespective of breed of dog being shipped, to ensure the safety of passengers and crew flying on AA flights. Releasable cable ties will be used on all crates flown in cargo.
Mr Helsdon added: "The reversal of the breed profiling ban is effective immediately.
Between May and September, the crate securing procedure will be perfected on dogs flown in crates as cargo only. Dogs flown as additional baggage will be subject to the new crate securing procedure beginning in September, giving the procedure an opportunity to be perfected during the summer months."
However, AA spokesperson Tara Baten, responding to OUR DOGS' enquiry about the lifting of the breed ban, responded in what has come to be recognised as her usual curt manner: "We have not announced any change to our animal acceptance policy. However, we are currently reviewing the policy and will announce any changes accordingly."
However, when OUR DOGS relayed the detailed comments from Jeffrey Helsdon, Ms Baten was forced to concede that there had, indeed, been discussions on raising the breed ban and referred the matter to Gus Whitcomb, AA's Head of Corporate Communications. Ms Baten then responded in somewhat more detail, saying: "I shared your note with Gus Whitcomb and he has asked me to respond. I can assure you that we have not made any change to our policy at this time.
Unfortunately, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America did not check with us to confirm that we had officially made a change to our policy or to obtain an official statement regarding the status of the policy. We are reviewing the policy and many discussions are taking place - If you'd like, I'd be happy to e-mail any announcement we make pertaining to changes to our live animal acceptance policy to you directly."
OUR DOGS will continue to monitor developments in this matter and will report on any further decisions once AA announces them.