A Canadian air passenger who tried to sneak her cat into Auckland was refused entry into New Zealand yesterday, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The woman only declared dirty boots to biosecurity officials at Auckland Airport when she arrived from Vancouver, failing to reveal she had hidden a cat in the small handbag she had carried aboard the flight.
She confessed to carrying the cat when MPI staff attempted to x-ray her baggage, says Craig Hughes, MPI's Manager North Passenger and Mail.
"She was very reluctant to have the hand bag x-rayed, saying it had already been checked by our quarantine officers. She only revealed the cat after we insisted the bag will have to undergo further biosecurity checks."
As a result of the find, immigration officials refused the woman entry permission to the country. She was forced to return to Canada with her cat on the next available flight.
The woman claimed she had alerted officials about the cat when she bought her ticket, says Mr Hughes.
"We believe this was a deliberate and very stupid attempt at smuggling. There are strict biosecurity rules in place to stop imported cats and dogs from introducing pests and diseases into New Zealand. The passenger clearly decided those rules didn't apply to her," he says.
"This is another example of MPI and Immigration New Zealand working closely together to curtail biosecurity offences at the border."