Friday, November 13, 2009

Boycott Continental Airlines PSA

This video is our first Beyond the Myth "call to action" effort. Continental Airlines has banned American Pit Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers and crossbreeds of either, from travel aboard its fleet. We're asking you to contact Continental and let them know you won't fly with them until they lift this breed specific policy.

Contact Continental Airlines through their website, or "Tell Them What You Think" at 800.WE.CARE2 (800.932.2732).

Brought to you by the producers of Beyond the Myth and the Chako Rescue Association.

View and share this PSA from our YouTube Channel!

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shame on Continental Airlines

Before I started this project, back in 2007, I didn't know much about pit bulls or understand the discrimination that they and their owners face. I didn't have a pit bull companion animal but as fate would have it, soon after I began production on beyond the myth, a co-worker approached me with pictures of a rescued precious and silly looking pit bull puppy, Fern, and I immediately fell in love. I am now one of "those" owners.

Fast-forward two years. Fern has become a great dog and my canine best friend. Everyone who meets her loves her. Despite our frequent trips to dog parks and outings with friends, Fern, like most canines, gets quite lonely without the company of others of her kind, so I've been looking to adopt another dog.

Once again. Fate stepped in. After traveling to California for a fundraiser a couple of weeks ago, "Pits and Fash," I was introduced to the little spitfire pup, Joey, a 4 month old pit bull rescued from a city shelter by the Chako Rescue Association in Sacramento. Joey needed to be placed in an active home. After spending several days with him and evaluating his personality, intelligence, interaction with other dogs and cats, and overall temperament, I decided he'd be a good fit for Fern and that I'd bring him home to Tennessee.

Hit the brakes. I was flying Continental and they have a pit bull embargo. The day before I was scheduled to fly back to Tennessee (Oct. 16th) I checked Continental's website, and here is what I found:

Continental Airlines will accept American Pit Bull Terrier puppies which are between 8 weeks and 6 months of age provided they do not weigh more than 20 lb (9 kg). All American Pit Bull Terriers more than 6 months old or weighing more than 20lb (9 kg) will be refused. Crossbreeds with American Pit Bull Terriers are also excluded from this embargo. This embargo is due to the danger presented to our aircraft and our customers.

I spoke to a representative that day, and was told that despite the fact that the website says "crossbreeds with American Pit Bull Terriers are also excluded," they are in fact not excluded. So, anyone out there wishing to travel with a pit bull/lab mix is out of luck. Unless, of course, a vet is willing to fake lineage on a health certificate, which Continental requires upon admitting a dog onto a plane.

After calling Continental a second time, and speaking with a manager, I was informed that despite the fact of this update being on the their website, Continental has expanded the embargo to include American Staffordshire Terries (AST) and crossbreeds. No American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, or crossbreeds of the two can travel on Continental unless they are under 6 months of age and weigh no more than 20 lbs. Joey weighed 26 lbs. So, UKC, and AKC show dogs and their owners are out of luck, too.

Because of the embargo, and my unwillingness to "forge" Joey's health certificate, I was unable to bring the 26 lb pit bull puppy home with me to Tennessee. I had to, instead, fly him on an American Airlines flight the next week. I am happy to report that he arrived safely and received many "oohs and awws" in the Knoxville airport. I made sure to tell everyone complimenting Joey about Continental's embargo, and they were all surprised and appalled, even the airport ground crew couldn't believe it. Thank you American Airlines!

While I recognize that commercial airlines have a right to impose animal travel restrictions and a responsibility to create effective safety-related policies geared towards preventing harm to crew, passengers and the public at large, we as consumers also have the right to voice our disapproval of such policies, especially when they discriminate and perpetuate ignorance and perhaps, more importantly, do nothing to actually ensure the safety they supposedly provide. Perhaps Continental should focus more on creating policies and cargo environments that protect us, the consumers, against the danger of ANY BREED OF DOG breaking out of its kennel.

In response to my experience and Continental's breed biased policy, I am sending an open letter to Continental expressing my disappointment and requesting that they lift their embargo. And, I am asking all animal advocates (not just pit bull lovers) and opponents of Breed Specific Legislation to boycott Continental by doing two things: choose to fly with other airlines that do not have breed biased policies when possible (American, Southwest, Delta, US Airways, United) and email Continental a letter expressing disappointment. This is a call to action.

You can watch Sacramento's News 10 coverage of Joey here, and read my letter to Continental here.

And, watch our first PSA, soon to be featured on this blog.


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