Stranded cats and dogs to be reunited with owners under a new arrangement

Cats and dogs may now be transhipped via Sydney to the Post Entry Quarantine Facility in Melbourne under a new temporary arrangement with Qantas airlines when there is no option for them to fly directly to Melbourne.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought, and Emergency Management, David Littleproud said the temporary arrangement is great news for Australians with pets stranded overseas due to the pandemic.

“Pets are part of the family in almost every household in Australia,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The Australian Government understands how hard it has been for some pet owners to make the difficult decision to leave their pets behind due to the COVID-19 inflicted travel restrictions.

“That is why we have worked with Qantas to offer an alternative arrangement for cats and dogs to be reunited with their families during these difficult times.

“Qantas has demonstrated they can effectively comply with all of Australia’s biosecurity requirements and I thank them for their work to make this a reality, Minister Littleproud said.

“Biosecurity will never be traded off and import conditions must be met in full before any pet can come to Australia.

“Despite current state government COVID restrictions our quarantine facility continues to operate and meet demand from pet owners for bookings.

“We also shouldn’t forget that throughout the pandemic my department has worked closely with owners, pet transport agents, and airlines on arrangements that have safely delivered over 1200 pets to our Quarantine facility in Melbourne since May.

“This arrangement will allow those pets waiting overseas where there are no direct flights to Melbourne to get home to Australia.

“I look forward to seeing Australian’s being reunited with their beloved pets and hope that this brings some happiness during a difficult period.”

Chief Customer Officer, Qantas Freight International, Nick McGlynn said pet movements into Australia remain restricted due to the limited number of flights, but the option to use Sydney as a transfer port will go a long way towards helping reunite them with their owners.

“Setting up Sydney as an alternative pet transfer hub has been made possible due to the close collaboration between a number of government departments and Qantas,” Mr McGlynn said.

Stranded cats and dogs fast facts

  • Cats and dogs entering Australia must still undergo a quarantine period in the Australian Government Post Entry Quarantine Facility in Mickleham, Melbourne.
  • Nearly 2800 dogs and cats have arrived in Australia during 2020 including more than 1200 since May 2020 when air transport for pets recommenced following an airline-imposed embargo in March 2020.
  • This is around 60 percent of the volume in the same period in 2019.
  • Transhipment is only available under limited eligibility, where other flights are not available.
  • Given the preparation that must be undertaken to prepare animals for their journey, this arrangement will be available from late September.
  • Information on biosecurity requirements to bring cats and dogs to Australia is available at agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs.
  • Where a direct service into Melbourne is not operating, pet owners will need to contact a local pet travel specialist to arrange their pet travel.
  • The option to use Sydney as a transfer port is contingent upon available capacity and services for connections into Melbourne.
  • Where there is an identified need, the airlines will work with the department on making suitable arrangements for transfer flights.