UPDATE: July 27, 2016: Meryl Bishop says her gecko Nom has been found safe after going missing. She is a little skinny but otherwise fine.
Previous story from July 26:
A B.C. woman says her pet gecko, Nom, has been missing more than 48 hours after being placed on a WestJet flight from Toronto to Vancouver.
Meryl Bishop packed up her belongings to move to Vancouver on Sunday and that included Nom, her 11-month-old Gargoyle Gecko.
“I’ve only had her around two months,” said Bishop in an email interview. “Despite not having her long, she is my world. I’ve been wrapped around her finger (or rather, her tail has been wrapped around mine), the moment I first held her.”
Bishop says she was told by WestJet that Nom could not travel in the cabin with her in a small box. Nom is five inches long and weighs under 30 grams, but WestJet’s policy states only birds, cats, dogs and rabbits can be in the cabin during flight.
So Bishop had to place Nom in the cargo, in a box, and when she went to collect her, Nom and the box was missing. In a Facebook post, Bishop writes she is concerned Nom is no longer alive – “Her wet paper towel to keep her cool, and to give her water, has definitely dried out by now,” she writes.
Bishop says WestJet told them Nom was loaded onto the plane at Pearson in Toronto but was never taken off.
“It seems like she has simply disappeared,” she says. “As of right now, she has not shown up on their manifest, nor has she been scanned in the system. WestJet Cargo has told me that they are now checking warehouses and cargo ramps in Pearson, Vancouver and Montreal, as well as checking baggage and lost and found, and going over security footage. Although I do wholeheartedly believe that they are trying, this should not have happened in the first place as it was a direct flight. There is nowhere she could have gone.”
In a statement to Global News, WestJet said:
The safety and care of pets, whether they are travelling as cargo or as carry-on, is always a top priority for WestJet and we sincerely apologize to our guest for what has occurred. We have been in contact with her in response to her social media posts and are arranging for our guest relations team to speak to her via telephone as soon as possible.
Bishop says she would like to see WestJet’s policy changed to allow small animals to travel in the cabin with their owners in a suitable carrier.
“When they are small and light, the chances of them being accidentally hurt in cargo does go up,” she said. “They can tip over or slide around more easily, or apparently, get lost.”
WestJet says staff are doing everything they can to find and return Nom, “including engaging baggage and cargo handlers and airport staff in both Toronto and Vancouver. In addition, we have issued a nationwide alert to all of our cargo bases to conduct a thorough search of all warehouses across the WestJet network. We will continue to stay in touch with our guest to keep her apprised of the situation.”
Bishop says she wants this incident to be taken as a lesson that sometimes exceptions do need to be made and that there needs to be better protocols in place to make sure animals such as Nom are not lost.
“Hug your pets, hold them tight, and be cautious and aware of who you are trusting them to,” she said. “Accidents do happen, but one that causes them to be lost with no information is not one that should have occurred.”