Imagine showing up to the airport to pick up your pets that had been flown across the country, only to find out they had been shipped to a different city.
That’s what happened to Cold Lake resident Megan Copeland, who was supposed to pick up her two dogs from Edmonton International Airport on Tuesday but was told by WestJet they had actually been sent to Calgary.
She said the dogs then sat in their crates for about 20 hours after their flight to Edmonton was delayed multiple times and then cancelled altogether.
“I just want everyone to know that this is how they treat animals, and based on other people sharing my posts and other people’s comments, this is not unusual with them,” she said.
“I’m so wound up and I’m so angry and frustrated about everything. I feel like I’m spiralling right now.”
Copeland had been visiting friends and family in St. Catharines, Ont., over the holidays, bringing along her two dogs, Henry and Willow.
She flew with her dogs in cargo with no problems in November but there wasn’t space to bring the dogs on the same flight when she returned to YEG.
She organized to fly them back a few days later.
Copeland, her husband and her eight-month-old son drove to Edmonton to pick the dogs up on Jan. 10 and saw on the flight tracker that they had landed.
But after waiting about an hour to be reunited with the pets, she was told they were at the Calgary airport.
“(The employee) said that they’re going to figure it out and they’re going to get them on the next flight to Edmonton.”
WestJet called what happened “an extremely isolated situation that was compounded by weather conditions.”
“While we recognize weather-related diversions can be frustrating, these decisions are made for safety precautions and deemed outside of WestJet’s control,” the airline said in a statement.
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According to the airline, the dogs’ original flight had been diverted to Calgary due to weather.
The dogs’ new flight to Edmonton was scheduled to land around 4:40 p.m., then it was delayed to around 5:45 p.m.
The two dogs sat in their crates without food or water in Calgary while Copeland and her husband tried to keep their baby busy and happy in the airport.
Next, it was delayed further to 10:30 p.m.
“That’s when I got my first call from them because I hadn’t received a call from them all day, even though all of this has been happening,” said Copeland.
Copeland said she was told someone was sitting with the dogs in the warehouse. She asked if the dogs had been fed or given water or let out of their crates.
“She told me that they can’t give them food. They don’t want to give them water because they could pee in their crates and they can’t take them out of their crates.”
WestJet said the dogs had been given water at this point.
The family decided to get a hotel for the night while they waited for the dogs, but heard an hour later that the flight was cancelled and the dogs would be there all night.
Plus, Copeland said she had to pay $300 per dog in boarding fees — something that astounded her.
“I’m not paying $600 for you to not take care of my dogs.”
WestJet said all customers shipping pets sign an agreement that outlines the potential for overnight kenneling fees as a result of delays and cancellations.
The family drove to Calgary and at around 1 a.m. was finally reunited with the dogs. They turned around and drove six hours back to Cold Lake.
Copeland said the dogs are fine physically, but anxious and lethargic.
Copeland said she wants to warn other pet owners about the dangers of shipping their pets.
“They (WestJet) clearly don’t treat their animals like living, breathing creatures,” she said.
“They treat them like suitcases and luggage.”
Copeland said she would like her money back from WestJet for the flight that saw her dogs end up in Calgary.
“Not to mention the hotel fees and the gas money to drive all the way there and all the way back. Some kind of compensation would be wonderful,” she said.
WestJet said it is open to discussing the situation further with Copeland if she wishes.