Friday, September 05, 2008

Cruelty to Animals

This is my baby. Her name is Allie, and she's thirteen. Definitely a member of the family. When we bought our place in Canada and decided to spend extensive periods of time there over the summer holidays, we knew we couldn't subject Allie to six weeks in the kennels while we lived it up on the lake. After doing some investigating we discovered it would be relatively easy to have her travel with us. She just needed to be vaccinated against Rabies and obtain the required health documents and she could travel in and out of Canada without any problems.
Not anymore. Oh, no. Air Canada has taken it upon themselves to make it as difficult as possible to travel with animals during certain times of the year. Summer and Winter. The two time periods we are most likely to travel in.
Now, instead of checking in with the dog as we would normally do, she must travel CARGO. You cannot book her on the plane when you book your own tickets, you have to wait 10 days before your date of travel to book her kennel space. If the flight is already full, you're out of luck. Previously, it cost around $70 to $100 dollars to take her on the plane with us. Now the cost of her travel is based on weight. We paid more for her fare than we did our own. And that was one way. You can't book a round trip.
But when you add up the cost of keeping her in a kennel here for six weeks, I suppose it evens out. Not really, but what are we to do? Like I said, she's part of the family.
Now, money issues aside, let's take a look at how these new procedures are harmful to my poor baby.
Normally we can drop her off and pick her up within an hour or so of take-off and landing.
She went into her travel crate at around 10am the day we flew. We landed in Toronto at around 3pm, take off an hour for time difference. It took about 40-45 minutes for us to get through customs and get our luggage. Then we discover we cannot pick up our dog in the same terminal we have landed at. We have to go to Air Canada Cargo. Does anyone know where that is?
Neither did we.
We rented our car, which took probably another half hour, got on the wrong road, got off again, afternoon traffic on the 401 is NOT fun, eventually found Air Canada Cargo, but they can't help us. Infact they're not even sure if they have a dog from Bermuda. And they're not real happy campers either. Join the club, bubba.
We're told we need to go to Canada Border Control or something along those lines, and it's in a building down the road. We have to drive there. Of course every other person in the world and all their cousins are also there.
Finally we're called to the window and the kid who must have flunked out of high school and now works for the Canadian government doesn't have a clue about importing dogs into Canada. No matter that we've done it five years in a row and have the paperwork to prove it.
Finally, after forking out more money, we schlep back to Air Canada Cargo and demand that our dog be released. By the time we got her and hit the road, it was close to 6pm. That's almost eight hours in a crate for Allie.
If that's not cruelty to animals then I don't know what is.
The saga of the return trip would take up just as much space on the page, but suffice to say Air Canada wanted her there FOUR hours prior to departure. And our flight left at 8am. You can fill in the blanks.
This is not fair to animals, nor is it fair to the families that do not wish to part from them for extended periods of time. We should be allowed to travel with our animals without these ridiculous rules in place.
If you have a dog and you plan to use Air Canada, be warned.
We'd switch, but it's the only way to get to Toronto from here as the US doesn't fly dogs during the summer at all.
I think I'll write a letter of complaint, but I doubt it will do any good.
I'm happy to report that my poor pup is none the worse for wear, but I'm kind of wondering what we're going to do next summer if she's still around and we have Noah to fly with as well.
Oy vey.


Barbara said...

Oh my goodness - what a performance..

Glad she appeared not too worse for wear after what sounds like quite an ordeal..

She is beautiful - I love collies, particuarly the Border...

So next year will be a challenge..

I would definitely be writing a letter - it will make you feel better and you never know, they may well take on board your comments and it help others - even if you have until next summer to see....

What subject is Sarah studying? I am sure I know - just can't recall it at the mo. Chris is year 11 already - where has the time gone? I hope it goes well for him... mocks, modules... the dreaded course work deadlines!!!

Take care and enjoy the conference - and then tell us all about it!

Rebecca said...

Well, this does not surprise me at all...Air Canada has not been a very good ambassador for this country in years, and it seems that they do not care anymore either......I also would be writing a letter of complaint and forwarding copies to several newspapers as well. I see you will soon be in Minneapolis......not far to the Peg from there!!!!!!

Nat said...

Cathy what a nightmare for you guys but sadly this seems to be becoming the norm these days. :( As you know, prior to Oct '07 dogs could travel from the UK to Bermuda as 'excess baggage' too but 'they' put a stop to that. It seems to be when these compaines have a monopoly they figure they can do what they like! British Airways is the only airline flying directly from the UK to Bermuda, hence they are the only one that can transport pets between us...catching my drift?? So now any pup I send out there has to go as cargo...cue a quadrupling of the price and a doubling of the time the dog now has to spend in his container :(

That said, the staff at BA World Cargo at Gatwick are extremely nice and look after the dogs really well which is something I guess. The pups never seem to be too bothered when they arrive at the other end and at least I know that the families importing are serious and committed to this little guy else they wouldn't have bothered going to all that effort!

Roll on October 5th! :))

Catherine West said...

It does seem so unfair to the dogs though and I wonder that the Humane Society in Canada and the UK has not gotten involved yet. Although I suppose there is not much that can be done about it! Oh well, at least the flight to Canada is a relatively short one compared to the UK one.