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Bad health led to dog deaths on plane: airline

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The health of seven dogs that died on an American Airlines flight this month may have been "compromised" before take-off, the airline said on Tuesday.

Autopsy results suggest high temperatures may have played a role in the deaths, the company said, adding that the results were "inconclusive."

American added that 17 other dogs on the flight have not shown signs of health problems.

"Since we have no reports that any of those other 17 dogs experienced health issues during shipping or thereafter, we believe the health of the seven dogs that died may have been compromised prior to them being transported," American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said in an e-mail.

American Airlines is a unit of AMR Corp.

The dogs died after an August 3 flight from Tulsa to Chicago that was scheduled to depart at 6:30 a.m., but was delayed by one hour.

The airline says on its website that "pets cannot be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary."

The temperature in Tulsa around 7 a.m. on August 3 was 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).

The dogs that died were part of one shipment with seven other dogs. Ten other dogs were part of different shipments on the same flight.

The dead dogs belonged to the same owner, as did other dogs on the flight, the airline said.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman. Editing by Robert MacMillan)