Over the last few months, much of our focus here at Worldwide Animal Travel has been reuniting pets that were stranded amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with their loved ones across the globe. Our most recent chartered flight, and the largest of its kind for Australia, took place on July 31st and carried 100 pets from Vancouver to Melbourne.

One of its passengers was Mardi Gras, a 19-year old senior cat who was just reunited with her family after an extended 6 month stay with us at our facilities followed by a strict 2-week quarantine upon arrival back home in Australia. Despite the lengthy and complicated relocation process, we worked tirelessly with Mardi Gras’ family to get her back home. Here is her story.

When Corey and Scott relocated to Toronto prior to the pandemic, they never intended on going back to Australia, so they brought Mardi Gras with them to enjoy her last few years on Canadian soil.  Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and a visa issue, the couple was forced to go back to Australia. Due to Mardi Gras’ old age, they were faced with a difficult decision: do they leave her with friends in Toronto, or do they bring her back home? The answer was clear: “Mardi has been…with us for 19 years, and we knew we couldn’t leave family behind.” Though bringing Mardi Gras to Canada was fairly straightforward, it turned out that the reverse – bringing her back to Australia – wasn’t as simple. “We found out that Mardi required a rabies blood test six months prior, then leaving her in Canada for a minimum of six months as per the Australian Quarantine & Inspection Services requirements for animals of her nature,” Corey says.

Luckily, friends of the couple told them about Worldwide Animal Travel.  After contacting multiple boarding facilities and receiving lacklustre responses, Corey says they found us to be “the most responsive and comprehensive service.”  In December 2020, as we (Worldwide Animal Travel) were preparing Mardi Gras for her departure, a routine veterinarian checkup found that Mardi Gras had developed a urinary tract infection, and her kidneys were not functioning well.  After losing another cat to hyperthyroidism right before moving to Canada, Corey reflects on how scary and stressful the situation became: “Both Scott and I felt we had abandoned her over in Canada with no family and felt horrified that we might not be there to say goodbye to her.”

Determined to bring her home, the couple scrambled to find her the right treatment, and eventually connected with a recommended veterinary clinic that was willing to continue to provide Mardi Gras with the necessary fluid injections every second day after her arrival at Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Facility in Australia. As if this wasn’t enough, the worsening COVID-19 situation continued to pose a challenge in Mardi Gras’ return to her hometown even after she arrived in Australia, as border closures in Victoria led to two cancelled flights. Eventually, Corey and Scott were able to book Mardi Gras on a flight that finally reunited them after months of being apart.

Though our staff at Worldwide Animal Travel are missing Mardi Gras dearly, we’re so pleased that she is once again with her family. And if you’re curious like we were about how she got her name, Corey tells us that she was named after the gay pride march he and Scott attended the day they also waltzed into a pet store and locked eyes with a mischievous yet lovable cat they soon went home with, now known as Mardi Gras.