October 9th, 2011 | WEEKEND

Can Handsome Dan fly?

Handsome Dan (sometimes known as Sherman) gives a Trumbull Master's Tea alongside his owner, Chris Getman '64, in 2009.
Handsome Dan (sometimes known as Sherman) gives a Trumbull Master's Tea alongside his owner, Chris Getman '64, in 2009. Photo by Max Budovitch.

Handsome Dan might need to apply for some funding to take his next vacation.

According to an article in the New York Times last week, short-faced or snub-nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs—called “brachycephalic breeds”—are being banned from several commercial airlines due to the health risks associated with them flying.

As these types of dogs have smaller openings to their noses, they are more likely to suffer breathing problems during high-stress situations like air travel. A report from the federal Agriculture Department noted that of the 189 animals that died on commercial flights from 2005 to 2011, over 50 percent of them were brachycephalic breeds.

As a result, dog-owners are opting for private airlines. Companies like Pet Jets and Pet Airways offer charter plane services specially catered to pets.

“We always make a joke: He flies private and we fly commercial,” said Patti Rueff, the owner of a French bulldog named Louie.

Handsome Dan has never flown on a plane before, says Chris Getman ’64, his owner. As an eight-month old, Dan was driven from Tennessee to his new home and has remained close by ever since, Getman said. If Yale’s beloved bulldog decides to take to the skies any time soon, though, he may qualify for “high-profile animal” status. This label is granted to Uga, the bulldog mascot of the University of Georgia, when he flies to football games. It allows him to bypass the new restrictions against dogs in planes.

Even if these restrictions became stricter, Uga’s handler maintained they would find a way to transport him.

“We will fly him in another way,” said Sonny Seiler, Uga’s owner. “We will fly him in a private plane.”