A British pensioner has launched a search appeal after his cat mysteriously vanished while being flown from Dubai to England.
Dinky has not been seen since she was checked in for the long haul flight ahead of a journey to London Gatwick, her owner Ian Lees said.
But when he and wife Susan landed in Britain, the cage was handed back to him empty. The plane was thoroughly searched but the cat could not be found.
The cage Dinky had been travelling in had a slightly loose hinge and Mr Lees says it is possible his pet escaped before the plane took off.
British pensioner Ian Lees (left) has launched an international appeal after his cat, Dinky (right) vanished while being flown from Dubai to England
The cage Dinky had been travelling in had a slightly loose hinge and Mr Lees says it is possible his pet escaped before the plane took off
The couple were returning from Dubai to live in Britain and flew home on the Emirates flight EK 011, arranging transit for Dinky and their other cat, Cleo
The couple were returning from Dubai to live in Britain and flew home on Emirates flight EK 011, arranging transit for Dinky and their other cat, Cleo. Emirates insists Dinky was loaded into the luggage hold in her cage.
But Mr Lees has now returned to the Middle East country to try to track down the missing animal.
He said: ‘I am back because I am convinced Dinky escaped from his carrier before he boarded that flight in Dubai.
‘We were earlier given the impression that Dinky definitely got to Gatwick. So we concentrated on looking around London.
‘We had volunteers posting leaflets and posters for us. I was even allowed to go airside and take a look. But all I could get is the empty carrier back from animal reception at Gatwick.’
Mr Lees said the carrier was completely undisturbed, indicating the cat was not in there for any length of time.
He continued: ‘The bedding was intact, there was no mess inside. And without being a detective, I could see that the carrier had not been used by a cat for 12 hours. Dinky must have escaped in Dubai itself before the flight took off.’
But Mr Lees has now returned to the Middle East country to try to track down the missing cat (pictured)
Mr Lees got in touch with Donna, his daughter still living in Dubai, who arranged for missing posters to go up and started a search.
He said: ‘We have also announced a reward of 2,500 AED (£500) for anyone who finds Dinky for us.
‘Life has been terrible without Dinky. My wife and I are worried about him. We come from a nation of animal lovers and we are committed to our pets which are like family. We can only pray and hope we find Dinky.’
Donna added: ‘My father was so distressed about the whole situation that he just had to come back. He has lost weight and is now on medication for hypertension.’
An Emirates SkyCargo spokesperson said: ‘Emirates SkyCargo can confirm that a pet cat scheduled to travel on EK 011 to London Gatwick on July 27 was loaded in its cage into the cargo hold of the aircraft after mandatory checks and inspections in conformance with regulations concerning the transport of live animals.
‘On arrival at London Gatwick, the cat was missing from its cage. During inspection it was found that one of the hinges of the cage was loose and that the door of the cage was slightly ajar.
‘A thorough search of the cargo hold of the aircraft was conducted both at London Gatwick and at Dubai when the aircraft returned.
‘Despite the best efforts of staff at the airports, the cat could not be found. Emirates SkyCargo has been in contact with the owners and we are extending all possible support.’