The Lung Association

The Lung Association

July 03, 2009 10:57 ET

Lung Association Calls on Canadians to Take Action for Pet-Free Flights

Launches online campaign to push Parliament to act on pet-free flights

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 3, 2009) -

Editors note: An image is included with this press release on Marketwire's website.

Following the decision by Air Canada to join WestJet in allowing pets to travel in the passenger cabins of airplanes, The Lung Association today launched an online campaign designed to allow the voices of Canadians to be heard on this important issue. The Association is encouraging all Canadians to visit and send a message directly to federal Health Committee Chair Joy Smith (C-MB), calling for hearings to consider the public health implications of allowing pets to travel in the passenger cabins of airplanes. The campaign follows a poll released by the Association last week which found that 80% of Canadians wanted Canada's airlines to offer pet-free flights.

"This campaign is about helping Canadians express their views on the issue of pet-free flights" said Cameron Bishop, Director of Government Affairs for The Lung Association, "We are encouraging Canadians to visit to send a message to federal politicians, and the CEOs of WestJet and Air Canada, that public health must come first for both airline passengers and crew".

The Lung Association is extremely concerned about the health of airline passengers and crew who may suffer from severe allergies to pets (dander, fur, saliva, urine) or whose asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) could be triggered by exposure to animal secretions or dander.

"If someone brings a dog or cat onto an airplane and there's someone with asthma on board, it can trigger a potentially fatal asthma attack," said Dr. Peter MacLeod, medical spokesperson for The Canadian Lung Association,, "While such attacks would be rare if your asthma or COPD are properly managed, it would take just one fatal case to have these policies reversed, and it's a shame if it comes to that. From our perspective it is better to be safe now with the health of Canadian travelers and air crew, then sorry later."

Air inside airplane cabins re-circulates - it gets recycled through the vents. Because airplane cabins are small spaces, it means that even a small amount of allergen, like the hair, saliva or dander of a pet, can spread quickly throughout the airplane cabin. The allergen in the air can reach every passenger on the plane, even people sitting far away from the pet. For people with allergies who have asthma or COPD, pet allergens can trigger wheezing, coughing, and swelling in the airways - otherwise known as an asthma flare-up (asthma attack) or a COPD flare-up. These reactions can be serious and even life-threatening.

Canadians can take part in the online campaign by visiting

About The Lung Association

Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canada's oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national organization for science-based information, research, education, support programs and advocacy on lung heath issues.

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Contact Information

  • The Lung Association
    Cameron Bishop
    Director of Government Affairs and Media Relations
    613-569-6411, ext, 223