SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Air Transportation of Companion Animals

SPCA supports the air transportation of companion animals only where this minimises harms to their health, physical and behavioural needs.

SPCA acknowledges that air transportation is stressful for animals, in particular the loading and unloading components, and every step should be taken to reduce the stress involved. Where animals are air transported, SPCA recommends that steps are taken to minimise welfare harms such as examination by a veterinarian prior to transportation, choosing an appropriately-sized crates, and crate training prior to transportation.

SPCA opposes air transportation of brachycephalic animals due to the increased risk of welfare harms during air travel.

Air transportation of brachycephalic (short-muzzled) animals is complicated by their increased risk of respiratory problems and heat stress, when compared with animals of normal muzzle length. Abnormal brachycephalic anatomy often results in difficulties in breathing and thermoregulation. When this is coupled with additional stressors (such as transportation, stress, exercise, high temperatures, or inadequate ventilation), brachycephalic animalsmay be unable to adequately compensate, and this can result in over-heating, respiratory distress, collapse and, in some cases, death. As air transportation presents a significant risk to brachycephalic animals, many airlines have prohibited the carriage of these breeds. SPCA recommends owners choose methods of transport in which direct supervision of the animal throughout the transport process is possible.

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