Friday, April 24, 2009

Pet Airways: No red carpets for "pit bulls"

Special requirements for "certain" dogs, plus a dose of corporate snark

What a way to run a pet-friendly airline!

The 8 per cent solution: Enough to make Best Friends look the other way on discrimination?

So, here's an interesting problem in corporate ethics. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary--the animal rights giant that makes a very big deal about how pit bulls are no different than other dogs--just announced a partnership with brand new Pet Airways.

Pet Airways has generously made a financial commitment to Best Friends and will also be donating flights to help transport rescued and adopted pets, says Namrata Chand, Best Friends cause marketing manager.

“Their services will not only provide a safe, comfortable and fast way to transport animals, but will also be a big cost savings for Best Friends,” Chand says.

In addition, eight percent of the price of each Pet Airways ticket purchased by Best Friends supporters will be donated to Best Friends.

Sounds like a sweet deal for everybody, right?

Wrong. And I'm here to tell you why.

No "separate but equal" for doggies

Looking past all the festivities and celebrations on Best Friends' website, the owners of "certain" dogs are going to find the following requirement buried in Pet Airway's contract of carriage:

SHIPMENTS SUBJECT TO ADVANCE ARRANGEMENTS The following shipments shall be acceptable for carriage by Carrier only upon Advance Arrangements: ... (D) Shipments of the following breeds of dog: Pit Bull, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Saffordshire Bull Terrier, Presa Canario.

Its kind of like the Alabama "Literacy Test." Sure, everyone gets to vote.

Blacks and Latinos just had to pass a little test first.

No big deal. Right?

Pet Airways spokespeople: snark and doubletalk

Consider this email exchange between a Pet Airways Customer Care professional--re-named "Dick"--, and a potential Pet Airways client:

Dick: . . .[Y]ou are not presenting owners of this breed in a very good light. It seems to me that you are the one that has the aggressive tendency, not your pet. We are trying to do something good for all breeds, so I suggest that next time a little less antagonism and a little more dialog would be a better way to approach a situation. If you have an issue, I suggest you talk before you jump to conclusions. We can always amend our policies based on calm dialog, can you amend your behavior?

["Dick" later continued]

You obviously have issues. We are trying to help, you are not. Please seek professional help. You are more aggressive than your pit bull.

In other words, Pet Airways responded with a defensive snit yielding condescension, negative stereotypes, and that old stand-by: deny, deny, deny.

"Dick" apparently thought his approach was best for dealing with gang-banging, drug-dealing, dog-fighting "pit bull owner." Did he get it from the Pet Airways customer care manual?

Another silver-tongued Pet Airways spokesperson showed up over at Yes, Biscuit. This time, the explanation was that. . . The reality is this we work with Best Friends to transport those very dogs that you say we are discriminating against. In fact, we are the only airline that even would consider transporting dogs with aggressive pasts. Dogs with aggressive pasts" ? WTF? Sometimes it's best to just step away from the keyboard, guys. Really. Crap, they had to haul out a dictionary to explain what "discrimination" means over at Yes, Biscuit. "Selecting some breeds for different consideration" . . .hellloooo ? Partnering up with Pet Airways: what Best Friends brought to the table

I'm getting this vision of the deal struck between Best Friends and Pet Airways.

Best Friends gets 8%, and in exchange Pet Airways gets a slice of that sweet, sweet Vicktory Dog pie. I'm thinking maybe a little clip on "Dog Town" as Pet Airways delivers one or two "fighting dogs" -- infant puppies that managed to survive their rescuers, duly delivered for $190,000's worth of rehabilitation, each, in Kanab, Utah.

Quid pro quo. Business. "Cause Marketing", even.

But what do you wanna bet "national pit bull stakeholders" would lap it up?

Let's predict the future! Why not?

Take Blue Dog's poll! Make your voice heard!

After all, your wildest imaginings, and most bumbling verbalizations, couldn't be any worse than Pet Airways' performance.

How will it all end? With a bang, or a whimper?
BFAS, in a fit of shame and embarrassment, will force Pet Airlines to mend their ways.
Pet Airlines is in it for the money, and will walk away from the flying pit bull market rather than fix the problem.
After thinking it over, Pet Airlines will completely refuse service for "pit bulls" and Presas, but also 30 other breeds and types. Hey, why not?
Other (go for it! -- use the blog's comments section)
Free polls from

Blogger's note: Roughly six hours after this blog went up, and 18 hours after Yes Biscuit's blog went up regarding Pet Airways' policy on "pit bulls" and Presas. . .the offensive wording was deleted from the Contract of Carriage on Pet Airway's website.


Shoshana said...

Maybe they've changed it but I couldn't find any reference to pit bulls anywhere at their site. Not even in the page you linked to. Guess they rethought?

BlueDogState said...

I just wish things were that easy.

See item 6 in Pet Airways' "Contract of carriage". The reference to "pit bulls" etc. is still there.

bestuvall said...

Gone now.. just 'pets with past aggressive behavior".. WTF????? Do they have to take a test?? Is it wrong to say.. "I hope this crashes before it gets off the ground? With no persons or animals hurt???" Good idea.. bad does this save you $$.. if you are say .. ging to a show.. you are charged 150 each way.. and you have to travel on a different airline? and pay that one too?? How does that save any money or hassle...

EmilyS said...

I'm still voting for #1.
But I am willing to give credit where it's due.

They DID change the policy, however that happened, and that's a win for the good guys.

As for the aggressive dog statement, I have no problem.. and am sure it's a good idea.. for owners to have to describe any past aggressive behavior (whatever the heck "aggressive" means.

I just hope their obsession with aggression doesn't mean they're planning to have some kind of fricking milehigh dogpark...

Tom said...

They talk down to potential customers and act like some of the worst I've seen on the Internet. As far as I am concerned Pet Airways can go bankrupt.

Anonymous said...

How do they know that dogs of the named breeds have an "aggressive past"? That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I sure won't be using them!

Anonymous said...

Pet Airways will go belly up when dog people refuse to use their service because of their alliance with Best Friends. Pet Airways thinks they're being coy. But they have underestimated the dog people and the economy. They need one or the other to survive. This deal with Best Friends(The Process reinvented) will cost them the positive aspects of both and they will go under.
Doesn't anyone remember "The Process"? Scary dudes if you were hanging out in 1960's coffeehouses and discussing the latest fringe group.