22 April 2013

Why I did not apply for the AWC in South Africa

I know my opinion does not carry weight as strongly as some others who have spoken out, but I just wanted to explain my thoughts on the entire situation.

Here are some opinions floating around the internet, and my personal response to them:

"The USA has to fly really far every year, so what difference does it make whether it's to SA or to Europe?"
Well.... it's about twice as far to SA, that's the difference. When I fly from here on the east coast of the US (I usually fly out of one of the big New York City airports) to most of Europe, it takes about 8 hours on the plane. For me, that's a pretty long ride, but  not unreasonable. Even for my dog, who generally goes about 10 hours per night between going "out", he is in the crate from drop off to pick up, for about 10 to 12 hours. I feel this is a long, but not unreasonablly so, length of time to be in the crate. So far I've never had a dog soil the crate when being in it, and all my cargo flights have involved the dog being in the crate for 12 hours or less.
A non-stop flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg takes almost 16 hours. And I do not live near Atlanta, I would have to connect on a 2 or 3 hour flight just to get down there. So that is 18 to 20 hours in flight, plus the 2-3 hours ahead that I must drop my dog off with the airline... plus at least an hour to connect flights (2 hours to be safe that the dog is transferred properly), you can see how this is adding up? We are already at 24 hours minimum, and if customs keeps my dog for an hour afterwards... that is just too much, to me. I understand how someone whose dog is comfortable with their crate and airline travel might take the risk, but I am personally not comfortable with my dog being stuck in his crate for an entire day.
PS I have just checked and even the team from Japan can get from Tokyo to Frankfurt on a 12 hour flight. I have to admit I am a bit offended at some of the Europeans saying things like "10 hours in cargo is abusive", as that implies that all USA and Japanese and SA Team members are abusing their dogs. Thankfully I think most people are not saying things like this ;)

"It's not a world championship if it is in Europe every year"
Well, I understand this viewpoint, I really do. And if it were only people flying on planes, I would probably support this idea. But it's not just people, it's dogs. Dogs in a cargo hold for a long, long time. And people paying more money (flights to SA are more expensive than flights to Europe, at least for me and also for my dog). Add to that, the idea that only one country will not have to fly to get there, and it just seems impractical. I also would be very uncertain about having this event here in the USA, even though flights are a lot shorter for Europeans, simply because it seems silly to move it away from the vast majority of competitors.

Also I have to admit that the lack of AKC financial support is another factor for me. Just my human airline ticket is currently listed for about $1800... this is a $5,000 to $8,000 trip, easily.

Overall, I am sad that I am going to miss out on the first chance for my amazing young dog to try out for our AWC team, but I have neither the money nor the inclination to fly my dog that far. Instead we are going to try our hardest to win a spot on the USA EO Team this year, and if we really do well, maybe a sponsored spot by the AKC. I look forward to the "short" 8 hour flight to Belgium, and the huge, fun, exciting event that is the EO (it will be my first time attending). And hopefully next year we will try hard to make that AWC Team and fly to Luxembourg to compete! Strafe is young and we should have many good years ahead of us!

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