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Canadian pilot diverts plane to save dog from freezing to death

The Independent logo The Independent 2015-09-17 Caroline Mortimer
CityNews: Simba the dog was saved by the pilot who redirected the flight to Frankfurt © CityNews Simba the dog was saved by the pilot who redirected the flight to Frankfurt

A Canadian pilot has been credited with saving a dog’s life after he diverted a flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto because a heating malfunction in the cargo area risked it freezing to death.

The unnamed Air Canada pilot noticed the temperatures in the hold plummeting as the plane was about to fly over the Atlantic Ocean and decided to make an emergency landing in Frankfurt, Germany.

The seven-year-old French bulldog called Simba was taking his first flight across the Atlantic and was at risk of freezing to death if the cargo hold’s temperature had not been raised.

He was placed on another flight and was later reunited with his owner in Toronto.

The owner, German Kontorovich, praised the captain for saving the animal’s life telling Canadian news channel CityNews: "It's my dog. It's like child, it's everything."

He said he had been travelling from Israel to Canada to study.

Peter Fitzgerald, a spokesman for Air Canada said: "While a heater is not normally a critical component, on this particular flight there was a live animal in the hold. With the altitude it can become very uncomfortable, and possibly the situation could have been life threatening if the flight had continued.

"While we recognize this was an inconvenience for our customers, the overall reaction was positive, particularly once people understood the dog was in potential danger but safe as a result of the diversion."

The flight was delayed for approximately 75 minutes and the delay would have cost approximately $10,000CAD (£4,886) in wasted fuel, according to aviation expert Phyl Durby.

Despite this, Mr Durby believes the pilot made the right decision: "The captain is responsible for all lives on board, whether it’s human or canine."


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