An Air Canada pilot diverted a Tel Aviv to Toronto-bound flight to Frankfurt, Germany, after a cargo heater malfunctioned putting a dog's safety at risk. The dog, identified as Simba, was successfully transferred to another plane.
According to Air Canada cargo rules, a minimum temperature of 10 degrees needs to be maintained for canine travellers.
The pilot feared the seven-year-old French bulldog could suffer in high altitudes when the temperatures inside the cargo could get very cold.
"The captain grew rightfully concerned for the dog's comfort and wellbeing," Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, told CBC News.
"With the altitude it can become very uncomfortable, and possibly the situation could have been life threatening if the flight had continued."
Despite the Toronto-bound flight arriving 75 minutes later than scheduled, the 232 passengers on board took the delay in good spirits. "The overall reaction was positive, particularly once people understood the dog was in potential danger but safe as a result of the diversion," said Fitzpatrick.
The pilot made the decision before the flight took the route over the Atlantic Ocean. "If you look at the outside temperature, if it's minus 50 or 60, there is some insulation but it will probably still get down to below freezing [in the cargo area]...The captain is responsible for all lives on board, whether it's human or K-9," said Aviation expert Phyl Durby, reported City News.
Simba's owner, German Kontorovich, couldn't have been more grateful. "It's my dog, it's like my child. It's everything to me," said Kontorovich.
The Toronto-bound flight was reportedly Simba's first ever flight.