A Vancouver Island woman is challenging a flight policy with Air Canada that she says is keeping her from being reunited with her dying dog.

Robyn Larocque’s dog ‘Cheech’ is currently in Calgary where he underwent radiation treatment for a tumour, and he was ready to come home this weekend.

The pitbull cross flew there a week ago via WestJet, but the airline’s cargo desk in Victoria is closed on weekends – and Cheech can’t fly with Air Canada because of its policy that bans snub-nose breeds from flying.

The airline doesn’t accept brachycephalic, or snub-nosed, breeds of dogs and cats due to safety concerns, stating the policy was implemented in 2015 following research and tests.

“These breeds are prone to experiencing breathing difficulties especially during air travel, making it distressing and potentially harmful to them, and our decision was made solely out of concern for the safety of these animals,” Air Canada said in an email.

Larocque is calling the policy unfair because Cheech was cleared for travel by his vet. 

“If my vet said we don’t think it would be a good idea for you to fly this dog we would never do this, we’re trying to save his life as opposed to shorten it or end it,” Larocque said.

The Victoria woman rescued Cheech from the Capital Regional District pound two years ago.

Four weeks ago Larocque’s husband noticed a lump on the underside of Cheech’s jaw, which turned out to be terminal cancer.

One of the options was to fly him to Alberta for an experimental radiation therapy.

“He still has a terminal diagnosis. His cancer, unless there is a miracle, will not be cured,” Larocque said. “We are looking at prolonging our time with him.”

Air Canada’s snub-nosed breeds travel policy applies to a variety of dogs, including Boston terriers, chow chows, bulldogs and pugs.

Larocque wants the company to re-analyze the ban and take pets on a case-by-case basis, similar to WestJet.

“If they’re going to have a policy on snub nosed dogs, let it be based on actual research, actual advice from a vet,” she said.

The B.C. woman says she’s desperate to bring her sick dog home and the policy prevents it from happening sooner.

“To be alone for an extra 72 hours in a facility, hundreds and hundreds of kilometres away from us , that’s not where he needs to be when he’s as sick as he is,” Larocque said.