MIAMI – After a routine Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) flight landed in Toronto last Saturday, ramp agents were appalled to find approximately 500 French Bulldogs on board, many dehydrated and critically ill, and sadly 38 deceased.
Fingers first pointed at the airline, a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The Association has strict rules surrounding the transport of live animals.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) asked UIA to comment on the shipment. UIA declined but agreed to cooperate in the investigation with local authorities.
Shocking Conditions in Kiev
A short video filmed by a witness outside of Kyiv Boryspil International Airport shows the loading of hundreds of crates, many left out in the hot sun while people hauled them inside the terminal.
Airlines in Canada restrict shipments to two animals per crate and will not ship them if air temperatures are above 29.5°C (85.1°F). However, it is unknown if UIA follows similar practices.
On FaceBook, UIA offered an apology for the incident, saying, “Everyone at UIA offers its condolences for the tragic loss of animal life on our flight. UIA is working with local authorities to determine what happened and to make any changes necessary to prevent such a situation from occurring again.”
Regulations Surrounding Breaded Dog Shipment
The shipment of bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds is prohibited on many airlines. Flying proposes a huge health risk to these breeds, as the New York Times reported that more than half of all animal deaths during flights between 2005-2011 were from the brachycephalic type.
In this case, animal rights advocates point at fake documents and illegal smuggling of dogs bred in puppy mills to be the root cause of this tragedy. Many of these dogs can cost up to US$4,000, money that is funneled back into the illegitimate system.
Potentially dangerous consequences to humans also arise from this illegal trade as animals carry potential infections all over the world.
As the investigation into this incident plays out, airlines and airports may be given new regulations and potential fines for transporting animals in hazardous conditions.