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Airline bans aggressive dogs

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

DALLAS (AP) -- American Airlines banned aggressive dogs from its planes after a pit bull escaped from its cage in the cargo hold of a Boeing 757, and chewed up electrical cables.

The damage knocked the plane out of commission for repairs for nine days, but never placed the July 22 flight from San Diego to New York in any danger, officials said.

Crew members said they heard thumping from the cargo hold and discovered that backup radio and some navigational equipment wasn't working.

After the plane landed, ground crews opened the cargo hold doors and spotted the pit bull running free.

The dog had gnawed a hole in the bulkhead, damaged the cargo hold door and chewed through garden hose-size electrical cables.

The airline said the ban was a matter of safety and would apply to all pit bulls, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers and any other dog that exhibits aggressive behavior.

The American Kennel Club called the airline's move an overreaction.

''There is broad agreement among canine experts that aggressive or dangerous behavior is not breed-specific,'' the club's chief executive, Alfred L. Cheaure, insisted in a letter this week to American officials.

Cheaure said the pit bull's rampage was caused by a problem with the container, not the dog. He said American should upgrade standards for cages instead of banning some dogs.

But Carla Restivo, a Dallas breeder of American Staffordshire, a type of pit bull, said she found it hard to fault American Airlines.

''Airlines have enough to deal with, and it's pretty scary to have a dog come out of a crate and wreak havoc,'' she said.



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