Pickup at the airport can involve a lot of moving parts. We have done this a lot and we have streamlined the steps below, to remove any stress of the unknown.

1. Airport Lead.  There will be one DIBS “Airport Lead” person at the airport. Airport lead person will need contact info for the flight escort, so they can discuss progress/address questions.
2.  There will be a “Commercial Volunteer” at a second office to help with fees.
3. Foster parents picking up their foster dog

Know which terminal!

  • Terminal 3 – Air Transat/Westjet/Interjet/AeroMexico
  • Terminal 1 – Air Canada

Do not park at the airport – use the Cell Phone lots. There are 2.  Ideally, coordinate which lot you want to gather in, to get your fosters supplies handed out while waiting.
Cell Lot #1 is our preferred choice.


  • Be sure you check (and double check) actual flight arrival time (vs scheduled time). FlightAware is a great satellite tracker.
  • Aim to be at the cell lot 60-80 mins after the plane lands. Once the dogs land, the escort will need to bring the dog through customs Bring minimal distractions – no small kids, no dogs. You will need to be 100% there for your new pup.
  • Please stay in sync with airport lead and once complete hand-off is done, you can take your pup home!
  • Watch your timing and get to airport cell lot # 1 early to get your supplies in advance. (You will wait there until its time to drive to the terminal)

Airport Lead will take care of these things for you (if you are just picking up, you can skip this part)

  • Reimbursing the flight parent for customs fees
  • Getting vet records from flight parent and giving to each foster parent
  • Bring supplies to be handed out at the cell lot
  • Gift for flight parent
  • Prepare and bring gifts for Critter Cabs, if we are using CC for movement

The Pick up!

  • Once they clear customs, the flight parent will send message that they are on their way out.
  • Flight lead will let you know who goes in what order. Depending on how busy it is, perhaps only 3-4 fosters pick up their dogs at one time, as parking security won’t want to entertain several cars at one time.
  • When it’s your turn, drive to arrivals at the appropriate terminal.  Terminal #1 – Area D.  Terminal #3 – Pole 46 (i think…it’s near the end)
  • Double park (don’t go into parking garage)
  • Get your vetting, get your dog. Thank your flight parent – they are angels! 
  • Dog remains in crate, until home/secure
  • The WestJet Exception!!!!  We have a few WJ flights that we have funded. We chose WJ, as they allow 2 dogs per crate, provided they fit, provided they know each other and provided they come from the same shelter.  Pickups for these are a bit different, as the foster isn’t just loaded the crate into their car. Supervised, strategic uncrating will be required.  Option will be determined by airport lead:
    • Option 1:  When commercial office sends back the fax, all foster parents leave cell lot 1, and head to Terminal 3 parking, 4E, final row near the doors.  First fosters to airport walk over to terminal 3 to get the dogs from the flight parents. You will need 3 carts, so 3 walkers is ideal. Flight lead will need to walk over as well to pay porter and flight parents. Dogs are walked back to parking garage and uncrating starts when all 7 DIBS volunteers are present.  Foster parents will need to pay for their own parking (good news is, it will be fast!)
    • Option 2: When escort is outside, have 3 fosters drive up to terminal to put dog/crate in car. Remaining fosters can go right to parking garage.  Drivers (with dogs) will loop the parking garage and return to Terminal 3 parking to meet the others.  Uncrating starts when all 7 DIBS volunteers are present.
    • Uncrating when 2 dogs in a crate: lots to consider here! Flight lead will provide details.  Uncrating happens in a secured spot near elevator bays (this is why we have chosen this location).  Slip leads to be handy. One crate at a time, only.  Spotters to watch as each crate is unloaded.  Only one dog is removed from the crate: and the other dog remains in the crate.  Removed dog needs to be clipped into car and be double leashed.

Foster Dog Interaction

  • Dog stays in the crate. Crate goes into the car. Never remove the dog from the crate until you are home. Dogs have been lost in the airport with other rescues. Absolutely – NEVER.
  • Tip for when at home – get them outside asap. Have food and water ready, as they’ve had a long day.
    • Tip from a DIBS foster mom: My routine is – take the crate right outside in the back yard. Clip crate open and let the dog come out slowly, while I grab their (prepared) food and water dishes. Let them sniff around, take their time, pee and poop (hopefully). I will bring out my dog after the dog has had some time.
  • Put the extra collar and Tractive on the dog asap (charge it nightly so it’s always maximum charge)
  • Keep crate at your home, until we arrange a central pick up spot to return (eventual crate destination is Christine in Mississauga)
Fun Facts!
  • Terminal 1 is for Air Canada. Terminal 3 is for all other flights.
  • Check flight times a few hours in advance.
    • Flightradar24 and Flightaware both show in flight routes and ETA
    • Aviability shows scheduled flight times. Reminder to check this site for scheduled flight time (selecting the right date)