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First 'Passports for Pets' dog arrives from Japan [27/04/2001]

Asia's largest airline helped one of the world's smallest dogs make history when the first dog arrived in Britain from Japan under the newly expanded Pet Travel Scheme.

Vickie, a Yorkshire Terrier, flew in to London's Heathrow Airport on an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight from Japan, and became the world's first long-haul pet to clear UK passport control. Her owner, Mrs Tomoko Hoshino, was reunited with Vickie after the latter had undergone final medical checks at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (often seen on television).

Dogs are not allowed in passenger cabins, so Vickie travelled in the hold of ANAs giant Boeing 747. The aircraft flew nonstop from Japan, and on arrival her travelling cage was unloaded to be taken to the Reception Centre. There her paperwork for microchip number, anti-rabies vaccination, and Ticks and Worms treatment were checked. Finally, Vickie was allowed into Britain.

After Vickie's pioneering flight, ANA expect to bring in more dogs and cats under the Pet Travel Scheme. The Japanese are as mad about pets as the British, although the small size of city flats in Japan severely restricts opportunities for pet ownership. Instead, when they come to Britain, many hotels that receive Japanese guests will allow them to walk the hotel dog.

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