When Stewart, who lives in Surrey, B.C., saw pictures of seven-month-old Chester, she loved everything about him. The blue-grey short-haired Scottish fold — a breed characterized by its folded-over ears and big saucer eyes — came from a breeder in Montreal.
She bought Chester for $1,200, and with the assurance of the breeder that putting him in live cargo would be fine, they sent Chester on a journey.
On May 21, the breeder brought Chester to the Montreal airport to send him to Stewart, delivering the cat to Air Canada’s live cargo employee.
“From what I know, he was dropped off at the airport last Wednesday [May 21] at 10 a.m. by the breeder and he was left in a cat kennel that was approved for airline travel. The cage was secured by the breeder as well as Air Canada employees. They checked the cages over,” Stewart told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.
“By 11.30 a.m. my time in Vancouver, I received a phone call from the cargo people in Montreal telling me not to go to the airport because the cat had escaped.”
'Escaped animals are rare'
Stewart was told the bottom of the door had somehow gotten loose enough to allow the cat to get out. She suspects Chester is still at the Montreal airport, hiding.
Isabelle Arthur of Air Canada’s media relations said in a statement to CBC News that the airline ships thousands of animals a year, “and escaped animals are rare.”
Arthur said staff have laid sardine-laden traps for Chester and circulated his picture around to airport staff, going so far as to dispatch employees to search the backyards of homes neighbouring the Dorval airport and employing the airport’s falcon unit to search for the Scottish fold. Arthur also said other airports have been alerted, in case Chester managed to get onto another plane.
“We… remain focused on looking for the cat, which escaped from its kennel prior to being loaded onto the aircraft in Montreal,” she said.
Stewart, for her part, asked Air Canada to let her bring in a trapper, but said she was told the airport wouldn’t permit that. However, she said she spoke to a representative of the airport just the other day who said they hadn’t received a request from Air Canada about that so far.
She’s hoping no one has cat-napped Chester, and is regretting not flying out to get the cat herself. Stewart said the breeder told her she had lots of experience shipping animals via Air Canada live cargo and had never had any problems.
“I just thought, ‘Well, OK. They know what they’re doing.’ And here we are: My worst nightmare,” Stewart said.