Posted on September 12, 2017

The recent airline changes to Hamad International Airport has left pet lovers and animal rescue organisations in a huge predicament. With no other major airline allowing medium-to-large sized dogs to fly to or from Doha, current pet owners residing in Qatar, families with pets looking to relocate, and rescuers and animal lovers who dedicate their time and efforts toward animal welfare, find themselves left with no desirable options due to airline pet travel restrictions.

Until March this year, there were a few options to export larger dogs (>22 kilograms) from the country. KLM was the dog rescue lifeline for these larger dogs as they had a very generous upper limit and they allowed three dogs as accompanied baggage. Accompanied baggage, as opposed to cargo, is significantly cheaper. Qatar Airways only allows dogs that weigh under 32 kilograms; this includes the crate which normally weighs between 10-12 kilograms. (Some of the popular breeds - Huskies, German Shepherds, Salukis, and ‘Doha Specials’ - weigh an average of 20-30 kilograms as adults.) Qatar Airways is also double the price of KLM and Lufthansa.

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Lufthansa was then only remaining option. They weren’t nearly as generous as KLM, with a smaller allowance, size-wise (no giant crates), and only allowing three dogs in total onto any one flight. However, dog rescuers and animal exporters had to suffice with this and continued juggling to get their larger size dogs out with this airline.  Now, as Lufthansa will cancel their Doha flights from October 27, large dogs will not be able to leave Qatar as excess baggage.

Alison Caldwell, Co-Founder of Paws Rescue Qatar commented: “As it stands now, no dogs over 22 kilograms will be able to leave this country as excess baggage. The repercussions are utterly devastating. They are devastating not only for rescuers, but for those who have their own large breed dogs in Qatar and want to leave with them. Rather than budgeting roughly 2,500 QAR for a dog to fly excess baggage, they’re now going to have to shell out +/- 20,000 QAR.” “With an epidemic of dumped animals as it is, Qatar will likely now see more of them than ever before. For dog rescuers, raising the money needed to get dogs to their forever homes is difficult enough with excess baggage costs, so raising ten times that amount is just not possible. In the end, it is the dogs who will suffer immeasurably – a total injustice for innocent beings that are only in the dire situations they find themselves because of humans in the first place.”

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Qatar Airways is a world-class, award winning airline, its services consistently supersede all others and its endeavour to be the best has made it the exceptional airline it is today. Qatar Airways has not just proven to be invaluable to those living and working in Qatar, it has fast become a fierce competitor and necessity for those travelling around the globe. Qatar itself welcomes millions of employees from around the world. It offers a safe and wholesome alternative to those seeking greater comfort and success in their lives and careers. It has embraced so many families that it is home to many expatriates and animals are some of our most beloved family members. Qatar does its best to pass laws and regulations to better accomplish full animal rights. As a nation of majority expatriates, we bring our pets with us when we relocate, and we take our pets with us when we leave.

Like every nation there is always a need for rescue groups; there are hundreds of animals awaiting homes, animals of all shapes and sizes.  Qatar has provided full support and encouragement to rescue organisations around the country; rescues that have been very successful in the rehabilitation and relocation of animals around the world. This has proven possible due to the tremendous support from the nation and its love for animals. Now that other airlines that allowed larger pets to travel as excess baggage are discontinuing their services from Doha, families, animal lovers and rescue organisations in Qatar face a harsh dilemma. 

For an airline that is already the number one choice for so many people, rescue organisations are urging Qatar Airways to expand their invaluable service and update its excess baggage pet travelling policies while still remaining affordable.

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