In this Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016 photo provided by Ministry for Primary Industries, Bella, a 4-year-old pet cat belonging to a Canadian woman who authorities say managed to hide her in a handbag during a flight across the Pacific Ocean sits in a cage in New Zealand's Auckland Airport. The woman was refused entry into the New Zealand and was forced to catch the next flight home with her cat after she tried to smuggle it across the border. (Ministry for Primary Industries via AP)

In this Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016 photo provided by Ministry for Primary Industries, Bella, a 4-year-old pet cat belonging to a Canadian woman who authorities say managed to hide her in a handbag during a flight across the Pacific Ocean sits in a cage in New Zealand's Auckland Airport. The woman was refused entry into the New Zealand and was forced to catch the next flight home with her cat after she tried to smuggle it across the border. (Ministry for Primary Industries via AP)

Canadians sent home for trying to sneak cat into New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A Canadian woman who authorities say managed to hide her 4-year-old pet cat Bella in her handbag during a trans-Pacific flight had her vacation cut short when border agents discovered the ruse at a New Zealand airport.

The woman was refused entry into the country and she, her husband and the cat were forced to catch the next flight home, Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman Craig Hughes said Thursday. He called the woman’s actions “reckless and dangerous.”

New Zealand has strict regulations for importing pets. Cats and dogs from most approved countries must have an implanted microchip and be quarantined for a minimum of 10 days after arrival.

Hughes said the couple, both in their mid- to late-20s, managed to conceal the cat from the flight crew and other passengers during the 7,000-mile flight from Vancouver to Auckland.

“Apparently it was a very quiet cat. Very docile,” Hughes said, adding that it may have been drugged to make it drowsy.

He said the traveling couple said they had nothing to declare upon arrival but border agents then determined their muddy boots needed inspecting. Agents then moved the couple’s bags to an X-ray machine.

Hughes said the woman was “very reluctant” to have her small handbag X-rayed and insisted it had already been checked. She finally admitted there was a cat inside, Hughes said, but then said she’d told a ticketing agent about Bella when she purchased her ticket.

Hughes said even if the woman’s story were true, which he doubted, it was still unacceptable to bring a cat across the border without declaring it. He said foreign cats could bring with them ticks and diseases that aren’t present in New Zealand.

He said the woman got upset about being sent back home.

“She had plans to have a nice holiday with her husband in New Zealand,” Hughes said. “And her cat.”

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of May 22, 2022

Here’s what to expect this week.

Coast Guard aircrews medevaced two people from Dry Bay Airstrip, approximately 30 miles Southeast of Yakutat, Alaska, after their plane crashed, May 25, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Coast Guard District 17)
Three medevaced after plane crash near Yakutat

All four aboard were injured, three critically so.

The author’s appreciation for steelhead has turned into something like reverence considering what’s happening to populations in the Lower 48 and Canada. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Silent steel

“You forget most of what ends up in the freezer, but those steelhead, they stick with you.”

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, seen here in this June 16, 2021, file photo, announced Wednesday he will not seek relelection in the Alaska State Senate, where he has served since 2013. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Senate president says he won’t run again

“Honor and a privilege.”

Hoonah’s Alaska Youth Stewards helped make improvements to Moby and water the plants in summer 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Jillian Schuyler)
Resilient Peoples & Place: Moby the Mobile Greenhouse cultivates community

It presents opportunities to grow food knowledge and skills.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, May 26, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Supreme Court orders use of interim map for elections

The decision came just over a week before the June 1 filing deadline for the August primaries.

Most Read