Have you ever flown with an animal? Or even with an animal that wasn’t yours? For giving it a chance for a better life? You never heard about this possibility? Then, you should definitely keep reading!
I saw this accompanying an animal thing by chance on facebook, shortly after booking my flight from Lisbon to Munich. On the facebook page of an organisation, I offered accompanying a dog back to Germany. The responsible people check the waiting animals, the flight destination and time and then assign you one or more dogs or cats.
There are numerous animal protection organisations, who try to get the animals to Germany, Switzerland, Austria and other countries, mostly over the Internet. The question is only how to get them there? To closeby countries they get driven by trucks, but further destinations require flying. As it is not possible to accompany the animals every time by a responsible of the organisation, voluntaries are needed. This might be you. The only problem is that this action is not really known and people also think it comes along with high costs and time, which is not true! I want to explain you how it works and also tell you about my personal experience.
After a short time, I got an answer of Sigi Diesing, who works for Hope4Friends in Munich. She asked more specific information and if I also would take one dog with me in the cabin. I gave her everything she needed and I said of course I would take one with me. Gladly, my offer was accepted and they added four boxes and a small bag to my booking, which I would take with me.
Some general information:
- It doesn’t cost you a thing! The organisation pays for everything
- It is no extra work! The organisation takes the animals to the airport and does the check-in together with you. At your airport of arrival, the new owners of the dogs will await you and take them home. Your only task is to bring them out of the airport. The animals were always fetched!
- The animals are all vaccinated, examined by a veterinary and washed. As soon as they found a „godparent“, they will be made ready to fly.
- Not all flight organisations take animals on board. Some that accept them are: TAP, Lufthansa, Transavia, AirFrance, AirBerlin, Condor, Norwegian Airlines, TUI Fly, XL Airlines, Nordic Airways, Sun Express, Germania, Sky Airlines, Iberia, German Wings, Air Malta, Swiss, Pegasus
- For booking the boxes for the dogs, the organisations have to know about three weeks before the flight
So, the 29th of April, I got early to Lisbon Airport and met three Portuguese animal conservationists who brought the dogs. It was two more than thought. On short hand, they had found two more people to give home to two puppies and they fitted into the big boxes with the other ones. Finally it was seven dogs. Four adults: Carril, Shiva, Roxy and Chocolate and three puppies: Aylin, Arzu and Agapi. One of them had been operated shortly before and for its own safety it would stay with me on the flight. I got the passports and important documents of all dogs and then the dogs were weighed. The dogs were a bit excited, but it also is stress for a dog to be at such a busy airport, not knowing what happens. Especially my puppy was excited as she had to stay alone with me and on top of that, one of the other dogs was her sister. With the small dog in a small bag, I started my way to the gate. She was whimpering and only got calmer when I kept moving, so I walked my rounds until we could get onto the plane. There, I had to put the bag under the seat in front of me, but pretty fast it got clear that the seat next to me would stay empty and I got the allowance to put her on the seat. Like that I could see her and pet her to keep her calm. Soon, she fell asleep and slept for the whole flight. The flight assistants were very kind, always asked, if she needed something and brought her water. After landing, I hurried to get my bags and then fetched the other dogs at the special luggage claim. One of the workers at the airport got the four big boxes on a special car and we passed the customs duty. That didn’t take long, they just checked the documents and let us continue. Everything was really easy. Outside, the new owners of the dogs were waiting with the responsibles of the organisation. Everything happened very fast and the dogs got new collars and everything they needed. All of that had only been provisional in Portugal. The dogs could get out of their boxes and play with each other. They were so happy, jumping around. I was thanked so many times for my help and everyone was happy. Most of the dogs already had new owners, but some will only stay at temporary homes and still look for someone who will keep them forever. Two of the ones that I took with me are still searching. Just have a look at the website of Hope4Friends.
Hope4Friends commit themselves to the transportation and the wellbeing of cats and dogs in Portugal. They work together with three shelters in Portugal. They get the animals out of the country and send food and medicaments to help them out in the shelters. This year, they already found new homes for 60 animals, but they have about 650 animals to continue with only in Portugal. People to accompany them on their flights are always welcome and needed. Often, they already have new families waiting for them and they just need a flight companion and are listed on waiting lists.
As it is not really known and flight companions are very much needed, volunteers are more than welcome. Just inform yourself about the options of saving animals from other countries in your own country. Sign up as a flight companion or contact animal protection organisations. So that you can do a good action, when going on holiday and help an animal to get a better life. Or who knows… maybe you even bring home your new cat or dog?