A high flying pet

The British have long been known as a nation of pet lovers. Today Virgin Atlantic can reveal the true extent of our devotion to our four-legged friends.

Since 2003, the airline has seen an extraordinary 1,500% increase in the number of dogs leaving the UK to be reunited with their owners as they go on holiday or relocate abroad. The same period has also seen a 325% increase in the number of cats being exported.

And this rise is likely to continue into 2012 as the government introduces new regulations for bringing cats and dogs in to the UK which will make pet transport easier for animal lovers.

Owners will no longer have to place their pets in quarantine for six months; instead, this period is being reduced to just 21 days for those cats and dogs coming in to the UK.

Part of the family

John Barrowman, star of Torchwood and Tonight’s the Night, who is a regular user of Virgin Atlantic’s pet cargo service said: “At this time of year, we often hear that a dog isn’t just for Christmas – it’s for life. And for me, my three dogs – Charlie, Harris and Captain Jack – are like my children, they’re part of my family.

John Barrowman takes his two cocker spaniels and his Jack Russell with him wherever he goes

“My work means that I have to travel abroad a lot to places like Hollywood and it makes a huge difference to know that I have my two Cocker Spaniels and Jack Russell with me. Any possible chance I have to travel with them I do and that’s why I fly with Virgin Atlantic”.

John Lloyd, Director of Cargo, Virgin Atlantic said: “Since the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme in 2004, we have quite literally taken the lead in providing a pedigree service for our furry friends which is why more and more passengers trust us with their precious cargo.

“We’ve transported so many breeds all around the world – ranging from Siamese cats to Australia and Yorkshire terriers to the Far East. We’ve carried animals for customers who want to make sure their pets also get a holiday in the sun, for those starting a new life abroad and we’ve even flown police sniffer dogs trained in the UK to the Caribbean.

“Currently we’re seeing a strong demand for labradors, golden retrievers, Jack Russells and chihuahuas in Los Angeles, Washington and Australia and business is certainly expanding in other destinations including Hong Kong and South Africa where big dogs such as Ridgebacks are popular; though you’ll also see plenty of the new trend of cross breeds on our planes – labradoodles, cockapoos and puggles!”

* For more information on the new pet regulations which will be introduced on 1st January 2012, go to:  http://www.defra.gov.uk/pets