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Embattled NYC helicopter company cancels ‘doors-off’ rides for dogs amid backlash

2019-09-09

Troubled New York City helicopter company FlyNYON announced Monday it will no longer allow customers to bring dogs on open-door chopper rides over Manhattan after the hair-raising practice prompted widespread backlash.

“While we strongly disagree with the characterization and allegations directed our way, we have decided effective immediately, we will not longer be flying dogs or animals in any of our open-door flights,” FlyNYON CEO Pat Day said in a statement.

FlyNYON’s canine policy reversal came just one day after Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) demanded that the daredevil dog rides come to an end.

"Strapping in dogs for dangerous doors-off flights over New York is just totally repugnant,” Schumer said at a press conference with Menendez on Manhattan’s East River Esplanade.

FlyNYON initially insisted it was “fully compliant with all FAA operating and safety standards” and defended the so-called “Pilots N Paws” program because it raises funds for animals in need.

A promotional video for “Pilots N Paws” that spread across social media like wildlife over the weekend showed Instagram-happy customers bringing their pets on FlyNYON helicopters, strapping them in with harnesses and snapping selfies with them while dangling their legs over the Manhattan skyline.

Animal rights activists said the rides can be traumatic for dogs and accused FlyNYON of “animal cruelty.”

Beyond pooch problems, the chopper company is already facing two federal investigations for the March 2018 East River chopper crash that killed five people, according to Schumer.