“They took my eyes”: Deaf-blind disability campaigner has guide dog TAKEN AWAY for two days in British Airways pet passport row

Molly Watt was “crushed and mortified’ when her black Labrador Isabella was quarantined after they landed at Heathrow Airport

A deaf-blind disability campaigner had her guide dog taken away for two days when bungling British Airways staff wrongly let her fly out of the country without the correct pet passport.

Molly Watts said her “world fell apart” and her life was ‘put on hold’ when her black Labrador Isabella was quarantined after she flew back to Heathrow Airport from Berlin on Saturday.

She said: “I was in tears. I try to be as independent as possible. I was crushed and mortified when they said they were taking Isabllea.

“They took my eyes off me. I was so lucky I had my mum with me, if I hadn’t, I don’t know what I would have done.”

The 23-year-old, who has just 5% of sight left in one eye, claims she was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ during the debacle.

She was told by Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) that Isabella should have been given tapeworm medication before flying out of the UK and her passport stamped by a vet to prove it.

Amazing guide dog takes Molly Watt’s on a flight to Berlin

Isabella was quarantined when staff at Heathrow Airport said she did not have the necessary stamp in her pet passport (Image: Molly Watt)

The 23-year-old, who has just 5% of sight left in one eye, claims she was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ during the debacle (Image: Solent News & Photo Agency)
Amazing guide dog takes Molly Watt’s on a flight to Berlin
Molly, who was returning from a two-day conference, explained her 21-month-old pup HAD been given the medication but the vet had forgotten to stamp the document and British Airways had already let the animal fly out of the country without question.

She claims that the “final insult” came when an Animal Services representative asked her if she could READ contact details from Isabella’s passport, before the dog was finally confiscated after hours of waiting.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that it is an “airline’s responsibility” to check a guide dog’s paperwork adding: “If there are any discrepancies, it should not be allowed to board.”

British Airways have now apologised to Molly for the “mix up” and have “offered a gesture to make amends” and the office of Molly’s local MP, Prime Minister Theresa May, is now investigating what happened.

Molly, her mum Jane and Isabella were forced to wait in the airport for more than two hours while several members of staff were called to check the dog.

Molly, who has Usher Syndrome, a degenerative disease which causes sight and hearing loss, claims that several members of staff told her they had “never even seen a pet passport”.

“The first first UK border control lady didn’t even say anything,” said Molly.

“She just picked up the phone and said ‘I haven’t seen one of these before’. At first I thought it was a random thing as I had heard of people trying to pretend their dogs are assistance dogs.

“She did insinuate that it was a bit dodgy. But who in their right mind would try and pass their dog off as a guide dog if it wasn’t?”

Molly says she is a frequent traveller with BA and contacts them before every trip to let them know she is coming.

“I have formed what I would have described as a good relationship with BA Social Media team, a team I have trusted,” she said.

“Once my flights are booked and before I fly I will contact this team who are aware of me and my needs as a result of previous difficulties, they will call me, confirm I have all I need to fly and done everything necessary.”

Molly says she is a frequent traveller with BA and contacts them before every trip to let them know she is coming (Image: Solent News & Photo Agency)

Molly, from Maidenhead, said HARC and British Airways staff need to be “trained more thoroughly” (Image: Molly Watt)
When a British Airways representative did arrive to speak to animal services, Molly described them as “unprofessional” and “patronising”.

“I did not appreciate this and wanted answers to which she had none except to say Isabella would have to go.

“The final insult thrown in my direction was from the younger of the two Animal Services representatives, [who asked] could I ‘read my contact details from Isabella’s passport’, surely he might have noticed I have a guide dog, I am blind.”

Molly, from Maidenhead, said HARC and British Airways staff need to be “trained more thoroughly” when it when it comes to dealing with people with disabilities and guide dogs.

“I wouldn’t dream of breaking the rules. Awareness needs to be raised about this, I was too trusting that these big companies would know what they were doing,” she told Mirror.co.uk.

Molly was unaware she needed a stamp in Isabella’s passport and British Airways let the animal fly out of the country without question (Image: Molly Watt)
The accessibility consultant, who set up Usher syndrome charity the Molly Watt Trust, has used a guide dog since she was 16 years old but has only had Isabella for a few months.

The dog was quarantined and HARC staff told Molly that she would have to go home without her, but could pick her up the next day.

BA offered to pay the £480 quarantine fees, but Molly says she was more worried about how anxious her new guide dog would be “staying in an unknown place”.

After a vet failed to turn up at the airport the family were told Isabella had to be kept until Monday.

Molly added: “It sort of puts your life on hold and I have to use my cane. In the years I have been travelling with a guide dog this has never happened. Information about taking dogs abroad needs to be more accessible to people with disabilities.”

“They took my eyes”: Deaf-blind disability campaigner has guide dog TAKEN AWAY for two days in British Airways pet passport row

Molly Watt was “crushed and mortified’ when her black Labrador Isabella was quarantined after they landed at Heathrow Airport

ByRachael Burford10:21, 8 SEP 2017Updated12:26, 8 SEP 2017

(Image: Solent News & Photo Agency)
A deaf-blind disability campaigner had her guide dog taken away for two days when bungling British Airways staff wrongly let her fly out of the country without the correct pet passport.

Molly Watts said her “world fell apart” and her life was ‘put on hold’ when her black Labrador Isabella was quarantined after she flew back to Heathrow Airport from Berlin on Saturday.

She said: “I was in tears. I try to be as independent as possible. I was crushed and mortified when they said they were taking Isabllea.

“They took my eyes off me. I was so lucky I had my mum with me, if I hadn’t, I don’t know what I would have done.”

The 23-year-old, who has just 5% of sight left in one eye, claims she was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ during the debacle.

She was told by Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) that Isabella should have been given tapeworm medication before flying out of the UK and her passport stamped by a vet to prove it.

Amazing guide dog takes Molly Watt’s on a flight to Berlin

Isabella was quarantined when staff at Heathrow Airport said she did not have the necessary stamp in her pet passport (Image: Molly Watt)

The 23-year-old, who has just 5% of sight left in one eye, claims she was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ during the debacle (Image: Solent News & Photo Agency)
Amazing guide dog takes Molly Watt’s on a flight to Berlin
Molly, who was returning from a two-day conference, explained her 21-month-old pup HAD been given the medication but the vet had forgotten to stamp the document and British Airways had already let the animal fly out of the country without question.

She claims that the “final insult” came when an Animal Services representative asked her if she could READ contact details from Isabella’s passport, before the dog was finally confiscated after hours of waiting.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that it is an “airline’s responsibility” to check a guide dog’s paperwork adding: “If there are any discrepancies, it should not be allowed to board.”

British Airways have now apologised to Molly for the “mix up” and have “offered a gesture to make amends” and the office of Molly’s local MP, Prime Minister Theresa May, is now investigating what happened.
Molly, her mum Jane and Isabella were forced to wait in the airport for more than two hours while several members of staff were called to check the dog.

Molly, who has Usher Syndrome, a degenerative disease which causes sight and hearing loss, claims that several members of staff told her they had “never even seen a pet passport”.

“The first first UK border control lady didn’t even say anything,” said Molly.

“She just picked up the phone and said ‘I haven’t seen one of these before’. At first I thought it was a random thing as I had heard of people trying to pretend their dogs are assistance dogs.

“She did insinuate that it was a bit dodgy. But who in their right mind would try and pass their dog off as a guide dog if it wasn’t?”
Molly says she is a frequent traveller with BA and contacts them before every trip to let them know she is coming.

“I have formed what I would have described as a good relationship with BA Social Media team, a team I have trusted,” she said.

“Once my flights are booked and before I fly I will contact this team who are aware of me and my needs as a result of previous difficulties, they will call me, confirm I have all I need to fly and done everything necessary.”
Molly says she is a frequent traveller with BA and contacts them before every trip to let them know she is coming (Image: Solent News & Photo Agency)

Molly, from Maidenhead, said HARC and British Airways staff need to be “trained more thoroughly” (Image: Molly Watt)
When a British Airways representative did arrive to speak to animal services, Molly described them as “unprofessional” and “patronising”.

“I did not appreciate this and wanted answers to which she had none except to say Isabella would have to go.

“The final insult thrown in my direction was from the younger of the two Animal Services representatives, [who asked] could I ‘read my contact details from Isabella’s passport’, surely he might have noticed I have a guide dog, I am blind.”

Molly, from Maidenhead, said HARC and British Airways staff need to be “trained more thoroughly” when it when it comes to dealing with people with disabilities and guide dogs.

“I wouldn’t dream of breaking the rules. Awareness needs to be raised about this, I was too trusting that these big companies would know what they were doing,” she told Mirror.co.uk.
Molly was unaware she needed a stamp in Isabella’s passport and British Airways let the animal fly out of the country without question (Image: Molly Watt)
The accessibility consultant, who set up Usher syndrome charity the Molly Watt Trust, has used a guide dog since she was 16 years old but has only had Isabella for a few months.

The dog was quarantined and HARC staff told Molly that she would have to go home without her, but could pick her up the next day.

BA offered to pay the £480 quarantine fees, but Molly says she was more worried about how anxious her new guide dog would be “staying in an unknown place”.

After a vet failed to turn up at the airport the family were told Isabella had to be kept until Monday.

Molly added: “It sort of puts your life on hold and I have to use my cane. In the years I have been travelling with a guide dog this has never happened. Information about taking dogs abroad needs to be more accessible to people with disabilities.”
BA offered to pay the quarantine fees, but Molly says she was more worried about how anxious her new guide dog would be “staying in an unknown place” (Image: Molly Watt)
HARC said: “We have a legal duty to ensure that animals and pets entering the UK are free from disease, have had necessary treatments checks and that they comply with all EU and UK regulations relating to animal movement.

“Animal health legislation for passengers travelling with service dogs is the same as for pet dogs.

“On this occasion we felt it necessary to perform a temporary quarantine as there was no evidence to suggest that the dog had received one of the veterinary treatments necessary for entry into the UK.”

British Airways told Mirror.co.uk: “We understand how important assistance dogs are to their owners, and offer clear advice on travelling with them on our website and via our contact centres.

“We are in touch with our customer to say sorry for the mix up on this occasion and have offered a gesture to make amends.

“When it became clear that Isabella’s pet passport was not up to date, our staff we did all they could to help to make sure that she returned to her owner as soon as possible.”

Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/they-took-eyes-deaf-blind-11128602

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