KUALA LUMPUR: It was a happy take-off and landing for a senior citizen and her service dog, who left from here, after enduring a 24-hour flight to the United States.
Mina Velloo Kuttie, 72, (pic) who was headed to Boston to meet her son, had initially placed Patch in a kennel as she prepared for her first flying experience with the dog.
Much to her surprise, the ground personnel of Qatar Airways told her at the check-in counter that Patch was welcomed onboard the passenger cabin to fly for free.
“I did not expect that Patch would be treated so well by the airline staff.
“Even the passengers were so welcoming, ” she said when contacted in Massachusetts where her son Muthu Kumar Veerapen works as a geneticist in the general hospital.
Muthu Kumar, 34, said his mother’s therapist felt that it would be a good idea to have Patch accompany her for emotional support.
“I checked and found that the airline allowed for a service animal onboard provided that the necessary documents were submitted, ” he said, adding that a letter from the therapist, Patch’s passport as well as its vaccination record were submitted to the airline.
Muthu Kumar said that Patch has been playing a role as emotional and support dog to his mother since his father died some years ago.
“We were not sure if Patch would be able to fly in the cabin and had a kennel fitted for her.
“It turned out that Qatar Airways took this seriously, especially because my mother was flying all the way to the US where support animals are given serious regard, ” he added.
Muthu Kumar, who has been based in Boston since 2011, said Patch, which weighs 12kg, was well-behaved during the flight.
“People on the plane commented on how human-like she is, ” he added.
A Qatar Airways representative here confirmed that Patch, a mixed-breed, was the first service dog to fly in-cabin out of Kuala Lumpur onboard its flight.
Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB) founder Wani Muthiah hoped that other airlines would follow the example of Qatar Airways.
“It is a very heartwarming gesture.
“Dogs are used by various agencies, including the Fire and Rescue Department, but some look at dogs with disdain.
“This must change, ” she added.