Pets aboard aircraft present a patient safety issue – Canadian Medical Association

Crack Canadian journalist Andre Picard reports in The Globe and Mail from St. John’s that the Canadian Medical Association, during it’s annual meeting has called on airlines to “ban animals from cabins because their presence poses too great a risk to people with asthma and allergies”. The only exception, the CMA said, should be service dogs that assist people who are visually impaired or have autism.

This is not the first time the CMA has made this call.  An editorial in the CMAJ in 2010 said “The preferences of pet owners should not replace the well-being of their fellow passengers” and that “Pets can be accommodated comfortably and safely in airplane cargo holds, which is where they belong. Airlines must choose to put the needs of their human passengers first, or be forced to do so”.

On the one hand, the CMA’s position appears to straddle an extreme point of view, but the reasons cited in both the 2010 CMAJ editorial and the recent announcement in St. John’s are logical.  According to a February 2010 story in Science Daily, the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled that people allergic to nuts should be considered to have a disability under the Canada Transportation Act and must therefore be accommodated. The agency is now receiving passenger complaints about pets on airplanes and considering whether those with allergies to pets should also be considered as having a disability. Such a finding would force Canadian airlines to safeguard passengers with pet allergies.  JH, RPh

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