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Calls for greater care over NorthLink kennels

Craig Fullerton with his Japanese akita dog Tahni.

A LOCAL COUPLE whose dog became ill in the kennels on board a NorthLink ship have called for the ferry company to take their obligations to pet owners more seriously.

Craig Fullerton and Bea Anderson said they weren’t informed by staff when their Japanese akita Tahni suffered a bout of diarrhoea on Monday’s overnight sailing from Aberdeen to Lerwick – leading to worries that she could have been left in her mess the whole night if they hadn’t checked on her themselves.

NorthLink said in a statement in response that it was carrying out an investigation into the incident.

Fullerton said he and his partner went down to check on Tahni at 9pm to find her “squished right up against the door of her kennel, ears and tail down” and sitting in her diarrhoea.

The kennels used on board. Photo: NorthLink Ferries.

While the animals are checked on periodically, the couple weren’t informed despite the security guard apparently saying that he could smell the mess.

“Why did he not peer in to each kennel to find out whose dog it was?” Fullerton said.

“And why when I was forced to bin her blanket because it was ruined, he repeatedly said they had no black bags or anything to clean the kennel.

“Yes, they don’t expect this or have to deal with a lot of diarrhoea cases, however plenty of dogs pee in their kennels with fear, so you would think they’d have a cloth or something.”

The couple described the kennels as “extremely hot” and said the conditions for travelling animals are “terrible”.

Fullerton said they had to source baby wipes from a fellow passenger because showering the dog, which has very sensitive skin, would have “destroyed her coat”.

The couple complained to NorthLink and raised the issue with the SSCPA.

They believe that the ferry operator failed to adhere to five basic needs detailed in the Animal Welfare Act, which covers things including suitable environments and protection from suffering.

“I didn’t expect the security guard to open the kennel and clean the mess up but I definitely feel I should have been informed about the situation,” Fullerton added.

“If I didn’t go down and check on my dog she would have forced to lie down in the mess the whole night.”

James Linklater, Serco’s customer care manager at NorthLink Ferries, said: “We are currently carrying out an investigation into the complaint and are speaking directly with the passenger to obtain a better understanding of their experience.”

More than 26,000 people, meanwhile, have now signed an online petition created last year to encourage NorthLink to launch pet-friendly cabins in light of the “dungeon” like kennels.

Emma Jarvie, who started the petition, said the kennels were “loud, smelly and uncomfortable” for animals.