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Dog's death prompts pet safety plea for planes

By Liu Meng (Global Times)

08:57, September 07, 2012

Animal activists appealed Thursday to Chinese aviation authorities to improve conditions in which live animals are transported on flights after a much loved pet dog died in mysterious circumstances on or after a flight from Xining, Qinghai Province, to Beijing on August 6.

Eighty-one animal protection agencies from across the nation sent letters to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and China Southern Airlines, the airline company involved, on Thursday.

Liu Huili, the chief instigator of the letters and program manager at environmental NGO Green Beagle, told the Global Times that the dog's unexplained death had drawn much attention from animal rights supporters.

Comparing the Chinese standards for live animal transportation with that of foreign airlines, they found the latter is more strictly regulated, said Liu.

"We hope the CAAC will set stricter standards on how to transport pets by air to eliminate the chance of the animal dying," said Liu.

Zhao Nan, owner of the deceased Golden Retriever named Mars, told the Global Times that she has filed a lawsuit against China Southern, which was accepted by Chaoyang district court on August 23. There is no trial date yet.

When Zhao arrived in Beijing after her flight, her pet was missing from the crate. The next day China Southern found Mars, but he was already dead, China Business News reported on August 27. The airline refused to give any explanation as to how the dog died.

On August 17, a Pekingese named Apple was found dead after another China Southern flight from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province to Dalian, Liaoning Province, said China Business News. The report claimed that airline passengers had seen pet crates "being thrown" at airports around China.

The crate Mars was traveling in was damaged, said Cai Chunhong, Zhao's lawyer. They guess that perhaps it had been dropped or handled badly.

Crates used to transport animals by air in China should be up to a national standard. Mars's crate was up to the standards, and was a Japanese brand, said Cai.

Mary Peng, from Beijing-based International Center for Veterinary Services, regularly holds seminars giving advice to owners about how to transport pets by air. She said that the risks to the animal cannot be 100 percent eliminated.

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