Lonely Planet Writer

Man's best friend flying high during Fort McMurray air evacuation

Two airlines have been praised for their humanity as they allowed passengers fleeing the devastating Fort McMurray fires to bring their pets with them on their flights.

A dog being transported by Canadian North airline following the Fort McMurray evacuation: Image: Canadian North Twitter
A dog being transported by Canadian North airline following the Fort McMurray evacuation: Image: Canadian North Twitter

WestJet and Canadian North welcomed man’s best friend to the main cabin, as more than 90,000 residents were forced to escape from one of worst fires in Canada’s history.

A dog being evacuated from Fort McMurray by Canadian North: Image: Canadian North Facebook
A dog being evacuated from Fort McMurray by Canadian North: Image: Canadian North Facebook

With houses and possessions being abandoned, many residents were devastated at the idea of leaving their beloved pets behind, but as animal rescue groups worked to help the situation, the airlines relaxed their normally stringent rules around animal transport to ensure the evacuating residents got to bring their beloved pets to safety.

Air stewards and grateful passengers alike shared pictures to social media showing pets enjoying the mile-high hospitality, and one Canadian North flight to Edmonton carried 130 human passengers, 19 dogs, five cats and two turtles.

“When we touched down, we got a standing ovation. It brought tears to our eyes,” Canadian North flight attendant Wanda Murray told news channel CBC. “It’s a flight that will always remain in my memory.”

While air staff were roundly praised, ground staff at the airline also played a role by taking care of pregnant cat Meow Meow in their offices, as she went into labour before the flight.