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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dog's day; dog's life and .... dogs on board Jet aircrafts

There is oft repeated phrase ‘It's a dog's life’ – it means that life is hard and unpleasant.  There is another phrase associated with dog – ‘dog’s day’…. dog days refers to the sultry days of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August; in the Southern Hemisphere, they typically occur in January and February.  Romans associated this with  star Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog).  According to some reports,  Romans sacrificed a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather. Not everything associated with dog is bad perhaps…….

Today’s TOI reports that Ms Anita Goyal, wife of Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal, was detained at Mumbai airport for carrying her pet dog, a Maltese breed, on a Jet Airways flight from London last Saturday.  TOI states that after the flight landed, Anita was stopped by customs officials for carrying the dog against rules, which are mentioned on the airline’s website as well. Only after she paid up Rs.36,200/-, including duty, fine and a penalty, was she allowed to take her pet home. As per the customs rules, a pet cannot be carried or imported into the country in a plane’s cabin unless it is accompanying a disabled passenger or is being flown due to transfer of residence.

Due clearances from the vets and a licence from wildlife, import and trade authorities in India are supposed to be carried before a pet is allowed carriage on an aircraft. Jet Airways also specifies that a pet can be flown only in the cargo hold. Sources said Anita Goyal had a certificate from a vet, but not the other documents. It’s unclear how Jet authorities in London allowed her to board the aircraft with her dog. A Jet Airways spokesperson said that Anita was carrying a dog. “But the dog was in the cargo and not in the cabin. It was in a pet basket required for the transfer. She had all the necessary certification and documents. She paid all charges required in compliance,” said the spokesperson. At 11am on June 8, Anita landed at Mumbai airport along with her dog where she was detained for questioning. She reportedly told the customs officials that she was aware that dogs are not supposed to be carried inside the cabin. “However, since she is supposed to be in India for more than a month, she decided to carry the dog along on the flight,” said a source.

The rules state that pet can be flown only in a cargo hold with the exception that if the passenger has  transfer of residence. Airlines, including Jet Airways, do not allow any live pet in the cabin unless it is a service animal accompanying a disabled person.  Understand that in US, airlines that allow pets on planes have to follow strict federal guidelines. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) follows standards set by the Animal Welfare Act. Some of the rules for travelling pets are :
•          Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old.
•          Dogs and cats must have been weaned for at least five days.
•          Shipping containers must meet specific standards in regards to weight, size, strength, ventilation and sanitation.
•          Dogs and cats can't be dropped off more than four hours before the plane's departure unless the owner makes shipping arrangements in advance.
•          Animals can't be exposed to temperatures lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius) without veterinarian approval.

But this report of Daily Mail in Aug 2012 provides a different and interesting read.  It is about the rich owners treating their pooches lavishly on board.  It is too costly but who cares, when the owners are prepared to spend so much for their beloved pets.  It was a report on Dylan, an eight-year-old miniature Schnauzer, which was charged £1,250 for a seat on a Victor flight to Palma, exactly the same as it costs humans using the service. The dog belongs to a new breed of pampered mutts who, rather than being confined to cages in the hold along with the cargo, sit in their own leather-upholstered seats in the cabin next to their owners. The service is being offered by Victor - a private jet charter company.

So it is a royal travel aboard a jet ~ a full seat on its own, not a space on the floor at the back of the plane near the lavatories, not a dedicated mat next to the exit.  Dylan flew over the Mediterranean staring out of the window over the wispy clouds.  Its owner, Isabelle Frank living in South-west London wanted to ensure that their family holiday is with her beloved pet….the owner said that her dog was reluctant to be inside a cage.  A clear indication that despite the high cost associated with such travel, still there would be owners who would too happily carry their pets alongside.   'A happy dog makes a happy owner,' Clive Jackson, the founder of Victor, which officially launches its dog service was quoted as stating.  

The American socialite Paris Hilton, heiress to the hotel empire, has always taken her various chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers on trips aboard her private plane. Hollywood actress Zsa Zsa Gabor made headlines across the world in 1989 when, during a stopover in Atlanta on a flight from Los Angeles to Florida,  let her two Shih Tzu dogs out of their designated kennels and allowed them to run free in the cabin. When she refused to lock them up again, Gabor and the Shih Tzus were briskly escorted from the plane by Atlanta police.

Earlier there were rules which enforced that the pets will have to be quarantined but now in UK pets can move without spending time in quarantine providing they have a passport, are correctly micro-chipped and been vaccinated against rabies. For the wealthy, spending for them on board is far better option that putting them in kennels when going on holidays or transporting them in cages….

For the rest, just read and envy the dog’s fortune…..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
13th June 2013.
photos courtesy : dailymail uk

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