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American airline drops ‘breed specific dog ban’

AMERICAN AIRLINES is set to announce that, with immediate effect it is to reverse its seven-month-old policy of ‘profiling’ – or specifically banning - certain breeds of dogs from being carried as cargo on board AA flights.

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 last weekend.

Mr Helsdon said: "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. At one point, a DPCA Legislative Committee member held discussions with an AA officer in the first class section of an AA 747 travelling across the Pacific to China."

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."

He went on to pay tribute to the efforts of numerous Dobermann fanciers throughout the world who called, wrote, and e-mailed AA, which was flooded with mail in opposition to their breed ban since last July. Mr Helsdon expressed special thanks to DPCA official Judy Smith, who conducted many of the negotiations with AA officials on behalf of the DPCA.

American Airlines announced its new policy on August 7th 2002, stating that the airline would no longer accept the American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terrier, Dobermann 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.

Apparently the dog had caused "some damage" to the hold, although the extent of this was not revealed, but airline staff took photographs of the damage.

Soon after this, the airline consulted insurers about the incident and queried which dogs should be banned to prevent such an incident occurring again – apparently oblivious of the fact that any breed of dog could escape under similar circumstances.

According to the spokesman, the insurers came up with a lost of breeds which were considered ‘dangerous’ and the Airline introduced the ban immediately.

At the time of going to press, American Airlines had not commented on the matter.