Virgin Australia Responds To Dog On Tarmac Photo

Virgin Australia has responded to the photo of a dog left waiting on the tarmac in the Sydney summer heat while waiting for luggage to be loaded. The airline has defended its animal welfare precautions and states that all standard procedures were followed in the loading of the pet. 

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Virgin Australia has responded with statements and on social media to the photo of a dog being left on the tarmac Photo: Virgin Australia

Sydney to Adelaide in scorching summer heat

It was while the luggage being loaded onto flight VA436, traveling from Sydney to Adelaide, that a passenger spotted a dog sitting in its carrier on the tarmac. She took a photo of the green carrier cage sitting next to the conveyor belt loading bags onto the plane. The woman posted the photo to Virgin Australia’s Facebook page with the comment that the incident was “not good enough.” Several other social media users and pet owners strongly echoed her sentiment.


Concerns have been particularly strong that the dog was suffering in the heat. At the time, about 18.30, the temperature was still over 30 degrees centigrade. Australia has experienced a scorching summer and is still recovering from devastating wildfires that occurred over the past few months.

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Virgin Australia’s response

In a statement to news.co.au, Virgin Australia said that

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“We take the welfare of all animals travelling on board with us seriously. All standard procedures were followed by our team in the loading of this pet on flight VA436. In line with standard procedures, the pet was kept in a shaded area next to the baggage belt to protect it from the elements.

“We take pride in the safe transportation of pets around our network and we will continue to maintain the highest of standards when getting pets ready for their flight.”

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A spokesperson for the airline also assured media that the airline’s staff had conducted a final water and welfare check on the pet before it was loaded onto the flight.

On Twitter, Virgin Australia echoed its statement to news outlets in response to users sharing the photo and said that “It only takes a few minutes to load pets onto the aircraft and this pet was only brought out onto the tarmac when it was required for loading.”

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Qantas has had three dogs die during transport during the past few months. Photo: Qantas

Pet transportation procedures under scrutiny

Airline pet transportation procedures have come under scrutiny recently in Australia. The heated reactions to the photo come on the back of several recent cases where dogs have died as a result of handling during air transportation. A French bulldog named Bruno died from heatstroke after being left on the tarmac for 40 minutes in Townsville on Boxing Day last year, waiting to be loaded onto a Virgin Australia flight. 

Furthermore, three dogs have tragically died on separate Qantas domestic flights in just one month. One of them, a six-year-old Boxer, was also reported to have been left out in the scorching 39-degree heat on the tarmac for too long. The dog did not survive the conditions of the flight. They were all snub-nosed breeds, and these incidents have led airlines to say no to transporting these breeds until further notice.

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Pip's Mum

So… I have a 7 minute video of my dog being left in full sun on the tarmac while bags and boxes were loaded in January. 7 minutes was long enough for me and I complained to the terminal staff who called down and had my dog moved back into shade. She went on very last, easy 10-15 minutes later, after I had boarded and been in my seat for a few minutes (I was the very last person to board). Had I not complained, she would have spent all that extra time in the sun. This is not the first time she has been left exposed. I’m not sure that my experiences actually reflect Virgin’s claim of adhering to the ‘highest standards’. I am hoping after my complaint to Virgin that they will start to take their responsibilities seriously.