Pets in airplane cabins? Not so fast, say Canadian physicians

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Saskatoon, Canada -- Certain airlines recently announced new programs to allow pets in carriers to fly in cabins instead of baggage compartments. But Canadian physicians have joined the Canadian Lung Association in asking for a government investigation into possible effects of onboard pets on passengers with respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Saskatoon, Canada

-- Certain airlines recently announced new programs to allow pets in carriers to fly in cabins instead of baggage compartments. But Canadian physicians have joined the Canadian Lung Association in asking for a government investigation into possible effects of onboard pets on passengers with respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Canadian Medical Association passed a resolution Tuesday asking the House of Commons to “study the health impacts of federally regulated airline policies that allow pets to travel in the cabin of airplanes.”

The Canadian Lung Association had previously called for that investigation in June when Air Canada ended its three-year ban on pets in airplane cabins.

Canadian airline WestJet had allowed pets in cabins for some time, and Air Canada explained that its new pet-friendly policy was in line with other major airlines and that airplane air is heavily filtered for particles that could include pet dander and hair.

On Air Canada’s Web site, allergy sufferers are told to speak to a check-in agent or gate agent to make sure they aren’t seated next to passengers with pets. “We will make reasonable efforts to move you or the pet and pet owner,” the Web site stated.

Pressing its case in a press release released today, the Lung Association applauded Canadian doctors for their support and asked why the House of Commons Health Committee chair Joy Smith won’t add the issue to its agenda for its fall meeting.

"Forty-seven days after she began receiving thousands of emails from concerned Canadians on this topic, [Smith's] response continues to echo that of the airlines,” the release stated.

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