Animals in the Passenger Section of Airlines Pose a Health Risk for Passengers with Pet Allergies
The Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that too many Canadians are traveling with their pets in the cabins along side the regular passengers and this is causing distress to many passengers who have pet allergies. The editor-in-chief of the article, Dr. Paul Hebert, states that 10 percent of people with pet allergies should not have to be forced to sit through an entire flight with dogs, cats, and birds.
Although it is wonderful for passengers to have their dearly cherished pets close to them for companionship and to keep a watchful eye on them, people with a legitimate allergies are forced in a closed environment not able to get up and move their seat or get out and breath the fresh air.
Airlines are competing for business and so they are allowing this practice. However, the practice could facilitate a medical emergency if the allergic individuals go into anaphylactic shock. The help they will need is not available on an aircraft, they must be treated in a hospital. Already 22 such cases have been reported worldwide, 16 were directly related to passenger or crew who were allergic to the animals. According the Canadian Medical Association pets now take up 25 percent of the passenger flights in cabins.
The authors of the editorial feel that all animals not deemed service animals should remain in cargo. Seating passengers with allergies as far away from the animals as possible is not sufficient as pet dander gets on clothes, the seats and flies all over the cabin. They are asking for new laws to be put in place.
So far the Canadian Transportation Agency has received four complaints; three from passengers on Air Canada and one on a WestJet flight. Air Canada had banned pets in the cabins in 2007, but latter reversed its decision to restrict them to cargo.
Montrealers are concerned with the conditions animals live through in cargo, we have seen stories in the news of animals that were too cold, too hot, left without food or water for a long period of time and even lost.
The airlines have their work cut out for them balancing the needs of pet owners with the needs of passengers with pet allergies. Of course the needs of the passengers with allergies should come first. Still, more humane practices in cargo for pets have got to be put in place as well.
For a list of airlines flying out of Montreal