A pet Persian cat was separated from its owners and deported to its home country on Friday after customs authorities at Kochi airport said that the airport was not the preferred route for the feline to travel.
The couple, who was travelling on March 2 from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Kochi on Saudia Airlines brought their pet along with them. The cat was seized and detained by airport authorities, according to Deccan Chronicle.
According to Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar, Kochi airport was not a recognised route for importing pets. Furthermore, the couple also reportedly did not carry the necessary documents with them for bringing a pet to India.
"Importing of pets is only allowed after production of required health certificate from the country of origin and examination by our animal quarantine office," he told The New Indian Express.
‚ÄúStrangely enough, the airline permitted the animal on board without any documents, causing all the confusion,‚ÄĚ Sumit told The Hindu.
For these reasons, the customs authorities asked Saudia Airlines to send the cat back to Jeddah.
According to Kumar, the import of pets is allowed in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad airports as these airports have an animal quarantine facility which can examine and clear the pets immediately.
Further, the owners of the cat were also slapped with Rs 5000 as a fine for importing the cat without proper documents. Saudia airlines, in which they flew, were also served with a show notice in this regard, the report stated.
So how can pets be imported?
According to the guidelines of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), all pets entering the country with their owners have to be issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Animal Quarantine Station, whether they are accompanied or unaccompanied.
All pets entering India by air must also either come as checked baggage (for accompanied pets) or air cargo (unaccompanied pets) through airports that have quarantine stations.
In case of unaccompanied pets, the animals must arrive within 30 days of the arrival of their owners, according to the guidelines.
All pets accompanying their owners on short visits to the country need a DGFT license and also have to depart with their owners, the guidelines further state.