Some breeds of pedigree dogs & cats with very short muzzles (termed brachycephalic) can have difficulty breathing due to a disorder known as brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS). These animals are at a greater risk of suffering from stress and requiring veterinary attention, or passing away, during transport both by Air and Road.
The RSPCA has reported in its Animal Welfare Science Update July 2012, that many owners of Brachycephalic dogs in a clinical study, reported a high frequency and severity of clinical signs in their dogs, without perceiving them as a problem. In other words, there is a misperception that dogs with BAOS are normal.
The Misperception of Brachycephalic dogs as normal.
As professional animal transporters, it is our experience that this condition is the No. 1 cause of veterinary intervention and fatalities during transport. This fact is mirrored by published statistics from international airlines.
As a result, GTE can only carry Brachycephalic breeds at the owners risk and under the understanding that the owner, sender and receiver are aware of and agree to the following conditions specifically related to these breeds in addition to our normal Terms & Conditions.
GTE's Policy and special conditions regarding the transport of Brachycephalic Breeds:
The owner, sender and receiver acknowledge that their animal/s have not shown any signs of the symptoms or risk factors listed below and have had not previously required treatment for respiratory problems or heat stress.
The owner, sender and receiver acknowledge that our driver will assess the animal when collecting it and that any sign of the risk factors listed below may cause them to refuse to accept the animal for transport.
Notwithstanding the above it is the owner/senders responsibility to properly assess the animals condition and suitability for transport. If you have any concerns about the suitability of your pet for transport, we would strongly advise that you consult your veterinarian prior to travel.
In the event that an animal is not accepted for transport GTE is not obligated to refund any prepaid transport fees. Any refund given for prepaid transport fees will be at the sole discretion of GTE and such decision will be made having regard for whether the client should have had a reasonable expectation that the animal was fit for transport. (In the event that the transport is cancelled by the client and GTE is notified a reasonable amount of time in advance a full refund will be provided.)
The client understands that in the event of extremely hot weather conditions being forecast GTE may postpone or cancel the transport of seriously affected breeds, we will attempt to contact clients in advance if we have any concerns regarding the temperature prior to the trip. In this event rebooking or refunds will be arranged.
BAOS is a condition that can cause an affected animal to progress from a seemingly normal state of health to severe heat stress within a short timeframe. The nature of pet transport is such that your animals can not be individually monitored at all times and we cannot always get quickly to a vet due to geography or the time of day. The combination of these factors means that we cannot guarantee that we may be able to get your pet to a vet in time to save it if it suffers from heat stroke as a result of its condition.
In the event that an animal requires veterinary attention or dies during transport GTE shall not refund any prepaid transport fees. (notwithstanding that nothing in this disclaimer is intended to discharge GTE's normal duty of care or liability in the event that GTE or its staff are found to be negligent in their care for the animal)
In the event we are required to take your animal to a vet, any costs associated with treatment shall be owners responsibility. In this event we shall make every endeavour to contact the owner to authorise appropriate treatment. In the event that we are unable to contact the owner, the owner acknowledges that GTE will make such decisions as are necessary based on veterinary advice received and GTE duty of care to the animal.
In the event we are required to take your animal to a vet for issues arising due to BAOS or for any other reason, it is likely that the animal will be required to stay at the vets for an extended period of time and GTE will not be able to wait for treatment to be finalised. This may result in additional costs to the owner for extended care, boarding or alternative transport to complete the journey.
For the purposes of costs and liability the sender shall be deemed to be the owner of the animal until the animal is delivered unless the owner is clearly identified to GTE at the time the booking is made.
Symptoms or Signs associated with BAOS in these Breeds:
· Noisy breathing
· Reverse sneezing
· Nasal congestion
· Shortness of breath
· High blood pressure
· Low oxygen concentration in blood
· Fainting or collapsing
· Excessive flatulence (from gulping air)
· Exercise Intolerance
Symptoms of this condition do not seem to be an issue in young puppies but should be watched for in mature animals from approximately 9 months of age.
Specific additional risk factors for these animals include:
· Hot conditions
· Over excitement
· Previous respiratory issues
· Previous incidences of heat stress
Signs or Symptoms that may cause GTE drivers to refuse to accept a Brachycephalic breed for transport
· Loud or unusual breathing
· Nasal congestion
· Shortness of breath.
· Unusually hot weather conditions
· Signs of over excitement or stress
If your pet is or does at times show any of the above signs of this problem, you must seriously consider whether it is appropriate to transport your animal. Please note that all major transporters within Australia and internationally have some form of limitation or waiver regarding the transport of Brachycephalic breeds and in the case your pet is severely affected even private transport by car may not be recommended. We suggest that you consult your veterinarian for further advice.
Additional Information regarding transport of Brachycephalic Breeds:
Collars / Harnesses
Dogs with brachycephalic airway syndrome should be fitted with a harness that does not tug at the neck area. It is not advisable to use a regular neck collar or choker chain for these dogs, since the collar can put undue pressure on the neck. We ask that owners provide an appropriate harness that fits the dog properly and that the dog is used to wearing. In the event that our drivers/handlers feel that your dog is pulling insistently and that this may be affecting your animals breathing they will limit the animals walks as much as is practical under the circumstances.
GTE's insurance policy does not cover veterinary bills, death or loss associated with BAOS or any other existing physical condition that an animal may have. Such insurance is not available in Australia and to the best of our knowledge no pet carrier in Australia offers such insurance. It is possible for individuals to obtain cover for their personal companion animals through the RSPCA and other insurance providers.
Does BOAS affect all brachycephalic animals?
As previously stated not all Brachycephalic breeds are affected to the same degree and not all dogs within a breed are affected. We have specifically not seen this condition affect young pups but have seen it affect young animals from about 9 months on.
However we have seen it affect otherwise healthy looking animals. We are aware of animals with symptoms of BAOS being found deceased when no other apparent risk factors were present, autopsies have indicated heat stress as a factor even when heat was not considered to be an issue or the animal was in an air conditioned vehicle.
GTE Dog transport floats are not Air Conditioned and we make no representation that your animal will be transported in an air conditioned environment on our regional and interstate services. While air conditioning may be beneficial in keeping pets comfortable on short journeys it is our experience that the risks associated with using AC on longer trips outweigh the benefits. It is important to note here that while the external temperature is a factor in this condition and high temperatures are a risk factor, seriously affected animals are unable to properly regulate their body temperature even in an air conditioned environment.