A couple has been left devastated after their wedding present and beloved family cat went missing during transport to Cairns.
Jack and Jessica Thomas were moving overseas and were forced to leave their animals behind. They had arranged for family in Cairns to adopt their dog, Rambo, and cat, Cookie.
On August 11, the animals were entrusted to animal travel specialists, Jetpets, to transport the cat and dog to their new home. However, when the Virgin Australia flight arrived in Cairns, the crate that was supposed to be carrying Cookie was empty.
"We were very nervous and now we realise we had reason to be," Ms Thomas told 9News.
The Thomas family told 9News that it was only after several frantic phone calls to Virgin Australia that they were told that Cookie had never made it onto the flight and escaped just before take off.
“Definitely frustrated, nobody seems to be able to give us any answers as to how it happened,” Mr Thomas told 9News, adding that they were told the travel approved pet crates should have been zip-tied in front of them but that didn’t happen.
The couple used the service Jetpets to organise the flights for Rambo and Cookie but the pet travel company reportedly told 9News that “it was not involved in the crating or the lodgement process,” of the pets.
A spokesperson from Virgin Australia told Yahoo News Australia the disappearance of Cookie is “distressing” and they were continuing to provide the family with regular updates while they search for the missing cat.
“Virgin Australia is saddened by the disappearance of Cookie. We are truly sorry for this incident and we are doing all we can to locate him,” they said.
"I just want my cat back,” Ms Thomas told 9News tearfully.
Virgin Australia said they “take pride in transporting our guests’ pets and our teams follow stringent guidelines to ensure the highest of safety standards are upheld.”
As for how Cookie managed to escape his carrier, Virgin is on the case.
“We will continue to investigate how this incident occurred and review and update our processes accordingly,” Virgin Australian said.
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Jetpets senior manager David Rae confirmed the company acted as the booking agent for Cookie.
“Jetpets were not involved at any stage of the crating or lodgement process, Cookie was presented directly by the client and handed over to the Virgin Freight office at Brisbane Airport,” he said.
“From here it is apparent that Cookie became missing.
“We have been liaising frequently with Virgin Australia to understand what happened and more importantly what’s being done to locate Cookie as the highest priority.”
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