Virgin Australia Passenger Slams Airline For Leaving Dog On Tarmac
Virgin Australia has defended how it transports pets on flights after photos sparked concern over a dog that had been left on a Sydney tarmac in hot weather.
Elise Willemsen posted the photos to Facebook showing a dog inside a green crate that had been left sitting on the tarmac as passenger luggage was being loaded onto a flight to Adelaide on Wednesday.
Willemsen claimed the dog had been "panting hard" in above 30-degree temperatures and raised concerns about the pet being left on the tarmac while bags were still being loaded onto the plane.
"Thought airlines were supposed to change their policy on animals boarding flight after the luggage and not sitting on the tarmac," she wrote.
"What these photos don't show is how long that container sat there," she claimed.
In a statement to 10 daily, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said all standard procedures were followed by staff when loading the pet onto the flight.
"We take the welfare of all animals travelling on board with us seriously," the spokesperson said.
"In line with standard procedures, the pet was kept in a shaded area next to the baggage belt to protect it from the elements."
The spokesperson said that following the procedure the airline's staff had also conducted a final water and welfare check on the pet before it was loaded onto the flight.
"It only takes a few minutes to load pets onto the aircraft and this pet was only brought out onto the tarmac when it was required for loading."
Airline pet transportation procedures have been under the spotlight recently following a string of dog deaths on domestic flights in Australia and overseas.
Earlier this year, three dogs died in separate incidents on board domestic Qantas flights, prompting the airline to temporarily suspend its transportation of snub-nosed breed dogs as it prepared to introduce policy changes for pet travel.
At the time, Qantas said it planned to introduce additional precautions to help reduce risk when transporting "higher risk" snub-nosed dog breeds, including boxers, bulldogs and pugs.
As part of the changes, the airline said it would be introducing a mandatory requirement for all snub-nosed dogs to be cleared to fly by a registered vet "immediately" prior to travel.
Additionally, the airline promised to provide more protection for animals when they were out on the tarmac, including reviewing airport equipment and reinforcing existing procedures to minimise the amount of time vulnerable breeds spent on the tarmac, particularly in extreme weather.