Dogs and handlers get first class seats on flights home after helping with earthquake rescues in Turkey

Handler sits in plane with dog lying at feet. Bernese mountain dog sits in first class seat with paw on person beside it.

Rescue dogs who were part of the recovery efforts following the recent earthquakes in Turkey have been treated to first class and business travel on their journey home, courtesy of Turkish Airlines.

2 dogs sit on a window ledge at airport
Golden retrievers wait for their flight home

A spokesperson for the national flag carrier told The Independent that it was “the least we could do to show our appreciation for these heroic dogs’ sincere and heroic efforts”.

The hounds and their handlers came from around the world to assist with the rescue operation, including from Thailand, China, Hungary and Kyrgyzstan.“It was the least we could do to show our appreciation for these heroic dogs’ sincere and heroic efforts.” a Turkish Airlines representative said in a statement, noting that the pups came from countries all around the world including Thailand, China, Hungary, and Kyrgyzstan.

Turkish Airlines also confirmed that they had been providing free flights for evacuees, as well as free cargo transportation for urgent medical supplies, food, clothing, generators, hygiene kits, tents and other essential equipment. The airline said it has supported over 238,000 rescue personnel with over 1,300 aid flights, as well as donating more than 2bn Turkish Lira (£88m) to rescue efforts.

Turkish Airlines chairman of the board and executive committee, Professor Dr Ahmet Bolat, also donated his March salary for “immediate aid efforts”.

Swathes of southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria were destroyed by a series of earthquakes that shook the region in early February and beyond.The earthquake destroyed or damaged around 214,000 buildings and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, making it the worst disaster in Turkey’s modern history.

The tragic 7.8 earthquake occurred on February 6, and affected Turkey and Syria. Over 42,000 people have died as a result of the earthquake, according to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. There have been over 7,000 aftershocks since the initial earthquake. 

Rescue dog and handler on flight

To help with the safe transportation of animals, the airline says they provided free carrying cases to airports so that other pets could be safely boarded onto aircraft for evacuation flights. 

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