Holidays can be a mixed blessing for pet owners. Much as most people appreciate a nice break and the excitement of exploring pastures new, it can be difficult to leave their beloved animals behind. Pet passports have meant that it is now possible to travel with your pet to many destinations, but intercontinental travel remains difficult. However, a Canadian couple recently attempted to smuggle their cat into New Zealand and almost succeeded.
The couple concerned, a Mr and Mrs Hughes, did not evolve a sophisticated plan. They merely put their cat in their hand luggage and boarded the long distance flight! Hoping to take their cat on their holiday to New Zealand, they put their pet in a bag small enough bag to fly in the cabin of the aircraft. 4-year-old moggie Bella was obviously a very quiet cat because she was not discovered on route.
Indeed, Bella was not found until she reached Auckland airport following her 7,000-mile flight from Vancouver. Border agents in New Zealand where concerned about mud on the footwear of her owners who were called aside for checks in case the mud was a biohazard. Their bags were taken from them for scanning and they were then forced to admit that they were carrying their cat with them. The couple were refused entry to the country and sent back to Canada on the next available flight.
Their actions were described as "reckless and dangerous". New Zealand has strict regulations regarding the importation of pets. Cats and dogs from most approved countries must have an implanted microchip and be kept in quarantine for a minimum of 10 days following their arrival.
Mrs Hughes claimed that she had told her ticketing agent about the cat but this seems highly unlikely. Even if she had told airline staff about the cat, it was still foolish to attempt to smuggle the animal into New Zealand. The moggie could have introduced diseases or parasites into the country.
One wonders how Mr and Mrs Hughes managed to get Bella through security at Vancouver airport as all bags should x-rayed. Watching thousands of bags pass through the x-ray machine is certainly a boring job but you would think that a cat would be spotted by security staff even if they are half asleep. If you are concerned about airline safety, then perhaps Vancouver is not a good place to fly from!
Not So Clever Disguise
There are regular attempts to smuggle animals onto planes all across the world. Most of the smugglers are caught before they board their flights, despite going to extraordinary lengths to conceal their creatures. Take the Chinese gentlemen who was caught back in August trying to fly with his pet turtle. Mr Li was apprehended at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport when staff discovered the poor turtle disguised as a KFC burger! The poor animal was sandwiched inside a sesame bun which was inside a KFC carton!