A Different Type Of Quarantine: Heathrow Plans New Animal Center

Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, the word quarantine was most commonly associated in aviation circles with the transport of animals. This can be a complicated procedure, but, to expedite such matters, London Heathrow Airport is set to open a new animal reception center. The UK’s busiest airport hopes to open the facility by Q4 in 2021.

Heathrow Guide Dog
Heathrow is used to animals, having also previously hosted guide dog training. Photo: Heathrow Airport

A specialist facility

2021’s fourth quarter is when Heathrow is aiming to have its new animal reception center open by. According to Air Cargo News, the facility is set to measure an impressive 8,209 square feet in terms of surface area, and will be run by a company called Animal Aircare.

As well as serving as a reception center for traveling animals, the new facility will also function as an approved border checkpoint for the creatures. Animal Aircare’s Commercial and Facilities Manager, Pete Bryant, welcomed the plans to open the center, stating:

We are delighted to be opening our strategically based London Heathrow facility. The new operation will not only help us to better serve our customers but will also enable airlines and freight forwarders to expand on the services they provide.”

Heathrow Airport Plane
Heathrow plans to have the reception center open by the end of the year. Photo: Getty Images

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What will the center offer?

Heathrow’s new animal reception center will offer users a variety of services with the goal of making transporting animals by air as smooth a process as possible. The temperature-controlled facility will, for example, give direct ramp access to partner airlines, who it will also help with administrative details to ensure they have approval to carry the creatures.

In terms of what the facility will offer the animals themselves, the team will take care of aspects like transporting the creatures through the airport, and getting them onboard the aircraft in question in suitable travel boxes. Its role will ensure that the animals are transported in a safe and legal manner. Animal Aircare’s UK manager, Claire Beadle, added:

Our experienced team of animal welfare officers are pet owners and animal lovers themselves and are committed to making the transportation of pets and other animals a smooth and worry-free experience.”

The 8,209 square foot site will give participating airlines direct airside access. Photo: Getty Images

An animal-friendly airport

Heathrow has something of a history when it comes to its involvement with animals. Indeed, in 2014, its Terminal 5 played host to a training event for puppies on their way to becoming support animals. A nine-year-old retired guide dog helped them.

It is important for support animals to make themselves familiar with such surroundings, as 70-90,000 passengers requiring assistance used Heathrow a month at its peak. With this in mind, Guide Dogs London’s Engagement Manager, Rob Harris, stated that:

It’s fantastic that Heathrow Terminal 5 is opening its arms to our puppy walkers who can make the most of having a busy environment to expose the dogs to, safe in the knowledge that both them and the dog will be looked after. This will contribute to ensuring our guide dogs continue to change lives.”

Are you looking forward to seeing Heathrow’s animal reception center open? Have you ever traveled with a pet? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.