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Qantas fly ban policy for pets draws criticism from animal welfare groups

Urgent appeal to reconsider Qantas’ Extreme Weather Policy, threatening animal lives

Saving Animals from Euthanasia Inc (SAFE), the largest companion animal rescue and rehoming organisation in Western Australia, has issued an urgent appeal to Qantas, requesting the reconsideration of its extreme weather policy, which threatens the lives of animals in need and disrupts their mission to save lives.

A member agency of national animal welfare charity Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA), SAFE Inc is a vital pillar of support for regional communities, having rescued and rehomed more than 40,000 companion animals in WA over the past two decades.

But animal lives are now at risk following the recent enforcement of Qantas' extreme weather policy prohibiting animal transportation when temperatures are expected to reach 35°C or above, which is about seven months of the year in these areas.

SAFE’s northern, regional branches – Broome, Newman, Hedland and Karratha – rely on Qantas flights to transport animals to Perth, where they have a better chance of finding an adoptive home, explained SAFE Founder and Chair Sue Hedley OAM.

“Since mid-October, we’ve had to decline 36 enquiries and applications out of hand just because the adopters are in Perth and we cannot easily fly animals there,” she said.

“Over 50 per cent of SAFE’s animals from the four regional branches fly to Perth. But now, we will not be able to fly animals out of these regions due to the normal climate in the area, and this is affecting SAFE's regional branches as well as the animals and communities they serve.”

SAFE is also being contacted by pet flying companies seeking assistance for animals whose Qantas flights have been canceled due to temperature concerns.

CANA CEO Trish Ennis is also concerned Qantas’ policy would have a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of animals that cannot reach their flight destination.
“SAFE are a foster based rescue, and animals will face possible euthanasia,” she said.
Ms Hedley said Qantas’ policy is also consequently putting people’s lives at risk. One couple in their 70s are having to drive 1,500 km from Perth to Karratha to pick up their rescue 14-week-old puppy, Gemma. While in Karratha, they are helping to pick up Chase, an 8-month-old dog, and drive her down to her adopter in Perth.

She explained, “One of our volunteers for SAFE Karratha, Colleen, has fostered 32 cats since February, treated entire litters with ringworm and is now caring for kittens longer term than ever because they are unable to fly to Perth. She has made three trips to Hedland by herself at 4 am, driving six to seven cats at a time to get them on a flight with Virgin.”

Animal welfare and safety paramount

While animal welfare and safety during transport are of paramount importance, SAFE believes there are effective ways to mitigate risks.

1. Consultation with IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association), the RPSCA and the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) to establish best practices for animal transportation during extreme weather conditions.

2. Evaluation of alternative transportation options for pets during extreme weather, such as air-conditioned transfer trollies and designated areas at each port.

3. Exploration of the possibility for organisations and pet owners to sign waivers that absolve Qantas from liability in cases related to heat, with the understanding that safety remains a top priority.

4. A review of the current policy's impact on animal welfare, mental health, and family dynamics, as pets are cherished members of many households.

“As an interim measure, SAFE proposes a policy that delegates authority to the Officer in Charge at the ports to allow an animal to fly when it is reasonably ascertainable that the temperature during the entire journey will not exceed 35°C at each point,” said Ms Hedley.

SAFE commits to continue its practice of booking animals on the earliest (and coolest) flights out of the respective airport during times of extreme weather.

“Denying animals from regional areas the opportunity to find homes in Perth solely due to their birthplace and the weather conditions they are accustomed to seems unjust and will cause unnecessary loss of life,” she said.

SAFE has an exemplary record of commitment to animal welfare and safety during transport.

“We value our collaborative relationship with Qantas and the positive impact we have collectively achieved, as depicted in the documentary mini-series "Take Me Home" and the upcoming "Take Me Home 2”,” said Ms Hedley.

“We implore Qantas to reconsider its blanket policy in the spirit of collaboration, compassion, and a commitment to the welfare of all beings, as it poses a severe threat to animal welfare and disrupts the positive impact they have collectively achieved.

“We are confident that working together and seeking alternative solutions can continue to save lives and ensure that animals find loving homes regardless of the temperature.”

SAFE is asking for public support to sign the petition asking Qantas to review their Extreme Weather Policy and find a way to accommodate and understand the needs of SAFE and the animals they save.

Photography Credit (all): SAFE Inc. 

For more about Companion Animal Network Australia, visit

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