Dog’s Best Friend: Air Canada Pilot Saves Dog by Diverting Flight

Simba, age seven, which is roughly 49 in dog years, was on his way to Toronto from Tel Aviv. However, Simba had an unexpected layover in Frankfurt, Germany after the pilot of Air Canada Flight 85 noticed an issue with the cargo hold’s heating system, according to City News, a CNN Canadian affiliate.

With an unstable temperature in the cargo area, the Air Canada pilot took action to save the pooch by diverting the plane to Frankfurt. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick commented via email to CNN, “With the altitude it can become very uncomfortable, and possibly the situation could have been life-threatening if the flight had continued.”

Simba’s human companion, German Kontorovich, was in the passenger seating area of the plane as the flight touched down in Germany. Simba was safe and sound and was transferred to another plane with a properly working heating system for the remainder of his flight over the Atlantic.

The flight was delayed 75 minutes in all, costing the airline thousands of dollars due to the diversion of the flight. Phyl Durby, an aviation expert noted that it was the right decision. “The captain is responsible for all lives on board,” according to City News.

The general consensus of the onboard passengers was positive, understanding that one of man’s best friends was in a potentially life-threatening situation if the flight continued. “It was definitely the right thing to do,” one passenger aboard Air Canada Flight 85 commented.

Samba was reunited with Kontorovich in Toronto and he was appreciative of the pilot’s attention and compassion for everyone aboard the flight, humans and dog. Kontorovich told City News, “It’s my dog, it’s like my child. It’s everything.”

Pets are an important part of our lives, and many people see their pets as members of the family. Pets are also helpful for alternative therapy. Many Americans suffering from depression, anxiety, seizures, autism, rehabilitation, dementia, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rely on their pets day in and day out.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology includes quotes from children coping with autism. “She helps me, she calms me down, she lets me know she’s there when I’m about to have a meltdown. Anybody who has autism, anybody in the world would just benefit from this. She’s just like a healing dog,” Parker Weishaar, a boy diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, told CBS News.

Commercial airplanePets are often more beneficial for humans than we are for the pets. Pets have found themselves in unlikely places, doing long-term rehabilitation work with humans. A 1994 study published in Anthrozoös: A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals examined the behavior and self-esteem of women inmates working with dogs. The study found, “The effect on the trainers was studied using an established depression scale and a self-esteem inventory. Results showed significant group changes in both these areas.”

 Another study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias involved pet therapy in 15 dementia patients. The results again were positive. The study stated, “Results showed statistically significant decreases in agitated behaviors and a statistically significant increase in social interaction pretest to post-test.”

As an alternative to sedatives, antidepressants, and other pharmaceutical treatments, dogs are by far the more natural, therapeutic choice. Simba, like The Lion King character, had his own little adventure — and thankfully he will have many years to come, keeping his human companion’s heart filled with happiness and friendship. How does your pet help you?

Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flare for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life.  


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