Quick-Thinking Pilot Diverts Overseas Flight to Save Dog

Faulty cargo heating system could have killed Simba if not for captain's decision
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2015 2:02 PM CDT

An Air Canada pilot inconvenienced passengers on an overseas flight and may have cost the airline up to $10,000 in fuel costs, but people are praising him for a humane decision that also may have saved a dog's life. When the pilot noticed a cargo heating-system malfunction during a flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto, just as the plane was due to cross the Atlantic, he suddenly remembered Simba, CityNews reports. The 7-year-old French bulldog was taking his first flight holed up in cargo, and the pilot recognized the dangerous situation the canine could be in. "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]," aviation expert Phyl Durby tells CityNews.

The pilot's decision: touch down ASAP in Frankfurt, Germany, per CNN. There, Simba was put on another flight, and the original flight fell 75 minutes behind schedule, the broadcaster notes. Still, despite the expense and time lost, Durby says the pilot did his duty. "The captain is responsible for all lives on board, whether it's human or K-9," he tells CityNews. An Air Canada spokesman emailed CNN that "while we recognize this was an inconvenience for our customers, the overall reaction was positive, particularly once people understood the dog was in potential danger but safe as a result of the diversion." And Simba's owner, German Kontorovich, had an especially positive response, telling CityNews once he and Simba were reunited in Toronto that "it's my dog, it's like my child. It's everything to me." (An Oregon man saved a dog who plummeted from a 14-story balcony.)

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