Thank you for your interest in helping bring dogs to their new homes! Every day flights travel from Mexico City to Toronto, or Cancun to Toronto – and they don’t have dogs on them! Those are flights that could have saved dogs. As a registered rescue, DIBS relies on the kindness of volunteers (like you!) to bring these dogs onto to the next step of their rescue journey. This only works for travelers that have their vacations booked. The flight/vacation is paid for by the traveler, and DIBS can arrange the dog travel to align with your existing plans.
The task is quite easy, but this document in intended to highlight what to expect before and after your flight. The flight escort role begins and ends at the airport! There is no transportation of dogs required.
What airlines are good?
Not all airlines have equal philosophies with rescue dogs. Here are our preferences, in order.
1. Air Transat – The Good: Offers free spots to registered rescue orgs. Operates year round. The Bad: Maximum of 3-4 dogs per flight.
2. Air Canada – The Good: Offers free spots to registered rescue orgs accepted into their program. The Bad: Maximum of 2 dogs per passenger. Has heat/cold embargos where dogs can’t fly.
3. InterJet – The Good: Can bring many dogs at once. The Bad: Charges $125 per dog kennel
4. WestJet – The Good: —-. The Bad: Charges $250 per dog kennel. Has heat/cold embargo where dogs can’t fly. Maximum 3 dogs per flight.
5. Sunwing – does not allow dogs on flights.
Once you book your flight, let’s get started!
Step 1: Provide us with your flight details
Working with Kayla via firstname.lastname@example.org, she will help to get your dog spots booked! She will need the following info:
- Airline and airport locations (We are Toronto based, and work with rescues flying out of Mexico City and Cancun)
- Dates of travel
- Reservation number
- Your personal info (name as shown on passport, email address, etc)
Step 2: Being met at the airport
• If you are traveling to Mexico with extra crates or donations, a volunteer will meet you at the airport. If you are heading to Playa, they may be able to give you a ride!
• If you are traveling to Toronto, you will be met at the airport with a volunteer and dogs!!! (5 dogs is ideal.) Sometimes, depending on the flight, only 3 are allowed. If logistics align, you may also get a ride to the Cancun airport from Playa
Step 3: Checking in
• Mexico based rescue orgs are pro’s at this! They will bring the dogs to the airport, and help get you checked in, and ensure you have all required travel documents and vetting records. All dogs are fully vetted (above and beyond what is required for Canada)
o While checking in a porter will slowly get all the crates secured for travel. He will tag the crates
o Once porter is done, he will take you and the dogs to a secondary section. It’s a smaller room (you stay outside but can watch). Each dog is taken in one by one, their crates inspected and the front of the crate is secured for travel. You can wave goodbye to the dogs and continue through your standard process (security, etc)
Step 4: Welcome to Toronto! – turn your cell phone on and stay in touch with the DIBS team as you go through the steps! (We find Facebook Messenger the preferred tool, as you can have a group of people looped in at one time)
• Proceed to get your luggage (after you go through customs). Once your luggage is through, go wait for the dogs.
In Terminal 3, they will come out by a set of grey double doors (near end of baggage carousel 6).
In Terminal 1, come down escalator to baggage area. Dogs will be at area B (near luggage carousels 5 or 6)
Dogs seem to come off last, so you typically get your luggage first. You may want the large trolley for all the dogs. Worst case, collect 2-3 small luggage carts.
• Go through primary customs (**do not use Nexus as you are bringing commercial goods**) You will need to go to secondary customs as the dogs are live cargo (the helpers at the grey doors will direct you). This will take approx 15 minutes, when not busy. They will take the paperwork that you have been sent with:
o Rescue documents – states you are acting as a flight escort for DIBS dogs
o Vetting info (vetting booklet and health certificate)
o B3 form for importing dogs (commercial goods) – you will likely not need this, but it is sent, just in case! Typically the agent at secondary customs will fax a document over to the commercial customs building where the B3 will be processed with another DIBS volunteer.
• Once info is completed, you will be asked to go pay the customs fee – approx $56 – $75. (Don’t worry, we will pay you back!)
• After payment is received, customs agent will finalize and you will be on your way.
Step 5: The hand-off
• You will have contact info for at least one foster parent. Typically for 5 dogs, you will have 5 eager fosters ready to take “their” dog home.
• Give each foster home their vetting paperwork (one file folder per dog). Do a mental inventory to review if you have meds, leashes, and special instructions for the dog.
• Provide foster lead with the bill for the customs fee. Your decision to take cash then, or to get money emailed to you tomorrow.
• Take group photo! Wave goodbye! And…THANK YOU!!!!! You have helped save dog lives!
DISCLAIMER: While we desperately need flight parents, we also need the stars to align. In the case of escorting dogs, the stars are 1. dogs that are ready to fly, and 2. foster families with room to take the dogs. and 3. timing. Once you let us know that you can be a flight volunteer, we will try to get all details lined up. Most final planning happens 3-4 weeks in advance of the flight, but in, some situations, the details come together a little later in the cycle. (We need dogs to get adopted to free up a spot in a foster home). If the starts do not align, we may have to cancel, or on occasion can refer the fight parent to an alternate registered rescue. In case we have to cancel, please know that we truly appreciate your offer and please do think of us on your next trip! Without flight parents, these dogs can’t come to Canada. Thank you for reading all the way to the end, and we hope our paths cross soon!