Ercan meets its first Emotional Support Dog
By Kim Betts……
KAR Pet Travel……
In September KAR Pet Travel were asked to help with the relocation of Wags – a flat coated retriever – from Chicago to TRNC. Everyone knows that their pets are Special but Wags really is a Special pet who also qualifies for Special treatment when travelling.
Wags is registered in the USA as an “Emotional Support Animal”.
“Airlines have a broad definition of assistance animals that allows emotional support animals to fly in the cabin with their handlers. The animal must be registered plus the handler/owner must provide a recent letter from a physician prescribing the emotional support animal for a specific physical or mental illness that limits one or more life activities in order to (apply for housing or) fly with the dog”
As such, detailed discussions took place with Turkish Airlines, Ankara Travel, KAR Pet Travel and Amy (Wags owner) about allowing Wags to travel in the cabin with his owner/handler. Pets can usually be carried in the cabin into Ercan with Turkish Airlines ONLY if they meet the size criteria (8 kg or the permitted cage size of 23 x 40 x 55cm.) – obviously Wags is much much larger than that!
Documentation had to be supplied and suitable aircraft types considered. It was finally agreed that Wags could fly from Chicago to Ercan (via Istanbul), in the cabin with Amy, late September
I was concerned that the airport staff at Ercan may be somewhat concerned about Wags (who is a large dog ) unusual arrival at Ercan– pets usually enter in secure travel boxes or holdalls – not by walking down the steps off of the aircraft.
Information, about Emotional Support Animals, was put together and then translated into Turkish which I took to Ercan in readiness for Wags arrival.
The Customs duty officials read the information and had lots of questions about Support Animals in general but also about Wags himself. They then went onto the concourse and explained the situation with the ground crew and also the passport control and security officers.
The flight arrived and amidst a packed passport control hall Wags entered. There were many stares, and some looks of horror, by other passengers, at the large black muzzled dog walking amongst them in the arrival hall. He was accompanied obviously by Amy, but also by an Airport official, who after liaison with me, helped to clear the way for Amy and Wags through passport control and into the Customs airside office to meet with me. There the Customs papers and vet entry process was completed by me, although some of it had been completed during the wait for the flight to land, whilst Amy set off to retrieve her luggage.
It did not take too long for the entry process and checks to be completed and then Amy and Wags were free to leave the baggage hall area and go out into Arrivals to meet their friends.
Wag’s “tale” is an excellent example of how much Pet Travel (both Import and Export) in the TRNC has progressed and how attitudes have changed and are constantly changing. The working relationship between Ercan staff, Turkish Airlines and KAR Pet Travel has culminated in a much better understanding, empathy and willingness to meet all of the very different situations and circumstances that KAR Pet Travel presents to them.
Wags and Amy are now happily living here in the TRNC and Wags is continuing to carry out his special duties – but we do wonder if his TRNC doggy friends fully understand his American accent !!!