Companion animals from the Air Canada ‘ark in the sky’ charter flight are being reunited with their owners today after completing their mandatory 10-day stay at the department’s Post-Entry Quarantine (PEQ) facility in Mickleham.
The 49 dogs and 19 cats arrived into Melbourne on 7 November from Vancouver as part of the final leg of a mission to bring them home after being separated from their owners because of COVID-19 restrictions.
They were then required to spend 10 days at PEQ to fulfill Australia’s biosecurity requirements to protect our people, agricultural industries and environment.
Acting First Assistant Secretary of the department’s Biosecurity Operations Division Lee Cale said today marked the culmination of months of planning and logistical challenges.
“It’s a very exciting and emotional time for these owners who are seeing their pets for the first time in many months, and we can report all the animals are in excellent health after their flight and PEQ stay,” Ms Cale said.
“The PEQ is very proud to have played a significant role in helping to coordinate this successful reunion while also protecting Australia’s favourable biosecurity status.
“The PEQ coordinated with the Canadian airline, overseas and local pet agents to prepare for the scheduled arrival to ensure all the necessary import conditions were met.
“Upon arrival at Tullamarine, they were immediately transported under the watchful eyes of our team to the PEQ facility for 10 days quarantine.
“This is because imported dogs and cats have the potential to carry several diseases of biosecurity concern. These diseases include rabies, canine leishmaniasis and canine ehrlichiosis, which are also potentially zoonotic.”
The PEQ has facilitated 3635 companion animals this year to date – 1157 cats and 2478 dogs.
Ms Cale said the department will continue working with importers, animal transport agents and airlines on a range of options to ensure that pets ready to travel to Australia are able to do so.
“The PEQ Facility has remained open and operational throughout the various phases of the pandemic response and will continue to accept bookings for animals from all around the world, with animals arriving almost every day,” Ms Cale said.