Statement on the preventable death of 38 puppies aboard Ukraine International Airlines flight and the cruelty of the international puppy mill system

New York, NY (June 22, 2020) – The recent death of 38 puppies on a Ukraine International Airlines flight is a terrible tragedy. It’s evident to us, as experts in animal welfare and transportation, that the many checks and balances in place to protect animals during air travel were blatantly ignored on this flight, which resulted in dozens of entirely preventable deaths and extraordinary suffering for the animals onboard. Animals should never be transported in such huge numbers, with multiple animals to a crate, and without proper oversight and care on long journeys. Due to smaller nostrils and a narrow windpipe, it is never advisable to transport snub-nosed breeds in the cargo hold of any airplane.

The transportation of 500 pure-breed puppies from Ukraine amounts to an international puppy mill; this case highlights yet again the corruption, profiteering and cruelty behind pure-breed puppy sales worldwide. This case of careless neglect and cruelty should emphasize to all animal lovers and prospective pet guardians worldwide why it is vital to adopt pets from shelters.  

This tragedy also highlights the urgent need for international regulations for pet air travel. Ukraine International Airlines violated Canadian Health of Animals Regulations and International Air Transport Association (IATA) voluntary codes (a group to which they belong). SPCA International calls on Canada to hold Ukraine International Airlines accountable for their violations, and we call on the IATA to make these voluntary animal safety codes mandatory regulations for all its airlines and investigate UIA’s animal transport procedures. 

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