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Mission ImPAWsible: Aussie families desperate to bring beloved pets home

Australian families who returned home due to the escalating situation with COVID-19 are appealing to the Federal Government for pragmatism and compassion after being unable to bring their beloved pets home for months. 

Despite paying for the necessary required veterinary checks, Australian Government permits and transport vendors months ago - their furry family members remain stranded overseas, unable to land directly into Melbourne where Australia's only quarantine facility is located.

Cats and dogs entering Australia must undergo a quarantine period. In 2015, the Federal Government shut quarantine facilities outside of Victoria. Now the country's only quarantine facility is in Mickleham, Melbourne. When COVID-19 hit, thousands of families returned to Australia upon Government advice.

“At that time, we also booked and paid for our beloved dog Yuki to go into the quarantine facility, paid accredited pet transporters, as well as, carried out the necessary vet checks,” says Sydney pet owner Kate McQuestin.

“However, getting a flight directly to the city where the country's only quarantine facility is located has not been possible - resulting in our pets being stranded abroad for months.”

This already dire and costly situation is worsening with the cancellation of international flights into Melbourne and the state now in shutdown.

“We are desperately pleading with the Federal Government for compassion and pragmatism to prevent these animals from being stranded overseas for the foreseeable future.” “We are asking the Government to overcome red tape for a workable solution at this unprecedented time - which also complies with the important biosecurity requirements,” said Ms McQuestin.

Families have approached airlines and come up with the following pragmatic solutions to address this situation, which have been put forward to the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and his department:

1) Animals are permitted to land on a Qantas international freight flight into Sydney, remain airside and in crate, and are immediately transported to Melbourne on a Qantas domestic flight for quarantine with an assurance they do not come into contact with other animals. or

2) Given these unprecedented times and to minimise movement in Victoria at this time, the Government could permit interim quarantine and processing of pets in Sydney or Brisbane. A hopeful option after the Minister said publicly last month that animals could arrive into other states.

This would:

✔️ Prevent family pets from being stranded overseas, resulting in them being euthanised or given away.
✔️ Reunite families with their pets.
✔️ Allow Australian pet transportation companies to remain in business when many are laying off staff and struggling to sustain their business.

“Given the dynamic nature of COVID-19, the rising cases in Victoria, increased demand on the nation's only quarantine facility and no international flights that meet the department's restrictions - we are appealing for compassion and pragmatism from Minister Littleproud and his department to work with us on the solutions put forward.”

“We thank our national carrier, Qantas who stand willing to help Australian families be reunited with their stranded pets. We hope the Federal Government and Minister Littleproud can show some compassion and pragmatism, and help us bring our stranded pets home,” said McQuestin.

Last week, the pet owners started a petition to Minister Littleproud which has gained more than 2,300 signatures in a few days and more than 60 families in the same situation coming forward.

“My dog Lenny has been in Tokyo since we left on 27th March,” says Melbourne pet owner Tracey Smith. “We had started the 45 day process of getting him back to Australia and unfortunately Qantas stopped transporting animals mid-March. 

We knew it would be some time before we could get him back to Australia when we left but we are now hearing next year? We are not asking for financial help just to be able to bring our beloved dog home,” says Smith.

Phoenix - Trying to get from the UK to Perth

Phoenix is currently stuck in the UK. His owners had to move back suddenly and are trying to get Phoenix back to Perth by Christmas. 

Pet owner, Ciara Lowe Thiedeman says her two young boys’ lives were torn apart having to move suddenly, giving up all they knew and are desperate to have him home. 

They are paying friends to look after him. It is unlikely they will have him here by Christmas in the current situation'
We rescued our dog Phoenix. It’s time for him to rescue us - we really need him here with us as soon as possible,” says Ciara Thiedeman.

Savannah & Monty - Trying to get home from Malaysia to New South Wales

“I am appalled and feel majorly let down by this unfair system,” says Savannah and Monty’s owner Tania Grose-Hodge - who is trying to get them home from Malaysia and is also a part owner of a veterinary practice in West Wallsend.

“They stopped ALL of us who were wanting to do it the right way from bringing our pets home because someone tried to shortcut the system. To get them into Australia, we need to send them via another country that is accepting imports (e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong or New Zealand.”

“The cost for this method (via another country) is so huge: we were quoted in excess of $30,000 to bring all four animals to Australia. I have already had to re-home two out of our three cats. 

I’m devastated. I rescued all of my animals. My two boys (cats) had terrible starts to life and I feel like I have abandoned them,” says Grose-Hodge.  "Our dog and last cat are still in Malaysia in foster care and we hope to get them to Singapore in October and then to Australia in December."

Lily and Walter - Trying to get from Dubai to Melbourne

Lily and Walter’s owner, Sarah Derrig, was due to fly from Dubai to Melbourne early April but ended up arriving mid-May. Her pets went to stay with a relocation specialist with the hope of getting back sometime in June. 

“We haven't seen them since the 1st of April when we moved  into a hotel awaiting our flights home,” says Derrig. “We've been told that currently any flights coming into Melbourne are arriving too early in the morning for customs to receive them. 

We have paid A$25,000 so far for flights etc and on top of that we are paying a monthly boarding fee so that our pets are not caged up in a boarding kennel.”

“ We lost one of our cats a little over a month ago and we are devastated we couldn't be there to say goodbye. We are desperate to bring Lily and Walter home. It was easier getting our fur babies from Doha to Dubai two years ago during the blockade than what it is now during COVID.”

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You can sign the petition at

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