Canada Pets Fly Coach with Owners to Escape Wildfire

Posted by Stacey Venzel

Inhabitants of Fort McMurray, Canada--including pets--boarded emergency flights following evacuation from a raging wildfire.

Over 88,000 residents had to flee the province of Alberta, Canada last week in one of the most extensive wildfires in the country's history. Families ran from their homes with only the clothes on their backs, many forced to leave behind their beloved pets.

But two Canadian airlines quickly came to the rescue.

Teams of individuals and rescue crews are helping owners find their loyal companions left behind, but WestJet and Canadian North are also playing a role in making happy endings.

The airlines typically have restrictions against pet air travel, but they loosened the policy in light of the catastrophic events.

Some pet owners were able to flee with their canine, feline, or other pet in tow, showing up at the airport terminal with a four-legged passenger.

The strict airline guidelines involve size limitations and the use of carriers as well as proper documentation. Those constraints were all lifted this week.

Owners walked into coach seating with their pet at their side. The airlines allowed the pets to sit next to the owners on the seats, regardless of the creature's size. On Thursday, 19 dogs--including a Great Dane--five cats and two turtles filled a Canadian North flight along with 130 humans.

The flights have reportedly received teary-eyed standing ovations when they touched down.

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Canada Pets Fly Coach with Owners to Escape Wildfire