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Supposed Allergy Sufferers Whine about Dogs and Cats on Airlines

The New York Times recently ran a story on pets on planes, specifically the hassle and expense. It will come as no surprise to dog and cat people that they were overwhelmed with people complaining that animals just shouldn’t be allowed on planes at all. The issue is inevitably claimed to be allergies, but once again it seems more cultural than scientific.

Any reasonable dog person would be happy to accommodate one of the rare people who have severe dog allergies. But I won’t accommodate any one else’s irrational fears or cultural biases.

I’ve got severe allergies myself, but I am deeply suspicious of claims of being allergic to dogs. First off, the incidence of allergies to dogs is much rarer than it is to cats. Second, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone claim they were allergic to something, but it turns out it’s just a hunch. Unless you’ve had a RAST test, where they poke little anti-bodies in your arm, don’t claim that you’re allergic to something. I dated a guy who grew up thinking his brother was allergic to dogs. Turns out his mom made it up because she didn’t like dogs. But the aversion to dogs–as well as the allergy excuse–is now passed down to a new generation in the family.

The complaints are more about dogs on planes instead of cats, which is peculiar because cats cause so many more allergies. Any dog sitting in a cabin of a plane is under 20 pounds and on some airlines under 15 pounds. That’s not a lot of dog to be allergic to.

If we’re going to be rational about animals on planes, then let’s just have people be required to bathe their dog or cat within 48 hours of a flight. Therapy dogs generally have to do that before they visit a hospital. Yeah, it’s huge nuisance, but dog owners already have to haul themselves to the vet right before a trip, too.

Second, if we’re really dealing with allergies, then there should be no problem with poodles or any of the other breeds documented to be hypo-allergenic flying in the cabin no matter what their size. The president’s Portuguese Water Dog Bo was selected not to cause allergies in the White House; that ought to be good enough for a Continental flight to Tampa.

One angry pet-hater wrote in with her fantasy of fining dog owners for every bark or growl or peeing in their crate. Sounds fine, as long I as I can exact a fee from every participant in an inane business meeting or flirtation among strangers I have to listen to, for every time someone slams their seat back or is befuddled by where to put their luggage. A toy dog travelling is at the bottom of my list of airline complaints. If you’re afraid of a 15-pound lhasa apso growling, I really can’t be responsible for your comfort.

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2 comments to Supposed Allergy Sufferers Whine about Dogs and Cats on Airlines

  • James

    I am tested and have an extreme reaction to dogs sadly. Trust me when I say it makes my life difficult enough, but can’t imagine having an attack on a plane. 1 in 10 people have these allergies and it is sad how insensitive people are to it. Despite being tested I am often told by people it’s all in your head. Luckily from dealing with this I am used to people being ignorant and will add begging an airline to tell me if there will be a dog and making my personal medical problem public to my life. Let me add I love peanuts, but am fine with sticking to pretzels if it saves someone with food allergies life

  • DHomey

    Incredibly ignorant post. I love dogs, and cats, but am incredibly allergic to both. Spent my childhood being rushed to the emergency ward, turning blue after playing with dogs (when parents weren’t looking). I get allergy shots for animals once a week, and the waiting room is filled with similar patients. Despite shots, I still have to avoid animals. It’s not about sneezing – it’s about not breathing, one of the most horrible feelings you can imagine, and as dangerous as it feels. I’ve sat with dogs on the plane and had no problem; I’ve also had breathing problems before in that situation, and there’s no escape, nothing you can do but take drugs (assuming you’re prepared for this) and hope for the best. To write a piece dismissing dog allergies as imagined, or a cover for a dislike of animals, betrays a serious lack of education on this subject.