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Starving street dogs so emaciated one was just hours from death are rescued from Cyprus and flown to a new life in Britain on a jet carrying coronavirus medical supplies

Starving street dogs so emaciated one was just hours from death are rescued from Cyprus and flown to a new life in Britain on a jet carrying coronavirus medical supplies
  • Rescuer Andrea Siddons, 51, runs a dog rescue centre in Cyprus from her home
  • She found two dogs, Elsa and Hugo, who were so skinny their bones were visible
  • Teaming up with British Airways and other groups, she flew them back to the UK
  • The Boeing 747 also brought 34 other dogs and 14 cats to be rescued in Britain
A British animal lover who found two emaciated dogs in Cyprus rescued them and  got them back to Britain on a Boeing 747 that was bringing in coronavirus medical supplies.
Andrea Siddons, 51, who runs a dog shelter, the Cyrpus Dog Rescue, from her home on the island found two 'unrecognisable' dogs who were both so skinny their bones were clearly visible under their skin.
Five-year-old English pointer Elsa was found at the end of February and Hugo, an 18-month-old German short-haired pointer, was found in early March. 
Once getting the animals to a health weight, Siddons teamed up with British Airways and other groups to get the dogs onto the plane, along with a number of other animals, to be brought back to Britain and rescued. 
Andrea Siddons, 51, who runs Cyrpus Dog Rescue from her home on the island found two incredibly skinny dogs, but has managed to rescue them by bringing them back to the UK
Andrea Siddons, 51, who runs Cyrpus Dog Rescue from her home on the island found two incredibly skinny dogs, but has managed to rescue them by bringing them back to the UK
'When I first saw Elsa I thought she was going to die, she was in such a terrible state,' said Rochdale-born Siddons, who currently has 32 dogs in her home-based rescue.
'I saw a video of her first and it just broke my heart. I was trying desperately to get her out of the pound the same day as I thought she might die overnight; she was hours from death.
'Then, I was at the vet when someone brought Hugo in, he was just stood there with his bones hanging out. It was just so upsetting, I burst into tears again,' she recalled.
'Within weeks they had transformed themselves, they did so well so quickly, which was how they got on the flight. You can't even tell they're the same dogs.'
Hugo, an 18-month-old German short-haired pointer, was so skinny his bones were visible under his skinFive-year-old English pointer Elsa was also very skinny and was hours from death when she was found
Hugo (left) an 18-month-old German short-haired pointer and Elsa (right) a five-year-old English pointer were both found in Cyprus and were so skinny their bones were clearly visible under their skin. They were both rescued by Andrea Siddons
Siddons had planned to send them to new homes in the UK on commercial flights, but when the coronavirus crisis began all non-essential passenger planes were grounded. 
Instead, the charity worker teamed up with British Airways, its sister company IAG Cargo, pet transport service AIA Pets and dozens of other animal rescues across Cyprus.
Together, they chartered a Boeing 747 cargo jet already bringing food, perishables and essential medical supplies to take Hugo and Elsa, as well as 34 other dogs and 14 cats, back to new homes in the UK on a four-hour cargo flight from Larnaca, Cyrpus to London Heathrow on April 9.
Upon arriving the UK, they were taken to their new temporary home new, another rescue centre called Dogs4Rescue in Eccles, Salford. 
Hugo, an 18-month-old German short-haired pointer, was cared for in Cyprus before being brought to the UKElsa, a five-year-old English pointer, was also fed and was much healthier when she was brought back to the UK on a Boeing 747 cargo plane
The two dogs, Hugo (left) and Elsa (right) were both looking much healthier when they were brought back to the UK on a Boeing 747 cargo plane carrying medical supplies
Siddons explained that they don't normally bring dogs back on cargo flights, which made the rescue mission more challenging with extra restrictions.
'We normally send dogs back to the UK on commercial flights, and have been doing this for many years, but they stopped landing in Cyprus due to the coronavirus lockdown,' she said.
'This was the first time we had put dogs on a cargo flight, and it was a lot of work and stress because it was something we'd never done before.
'There were lots of restrictions we had to follow, but it was almost like a dream come true how well it went in the end.
'It was such an amazing feeling to see Hugo and Elsa happy and playing together when they got to the UK - it made it all worthwhile.'
Hugo the German short-haired pointer (pictured in a transport box on his way back to the UK) was one of a number of dogs and cats that were taken to the UK on a Boeing 747 as part of a animal rescue mission from Cyprus
Hugo the German short-haired pointer (pictured in a transport box on his way back to the UK) was one of a number of dogs and cats that were taken to the UK on a Boeing 747 as part of a animal rescue mission from Cyprus
The 36 dogs and 14 cats that were brought back to the UK on the flight were all abandoned and left on the streets across Cyprus.
Once on the plane, BA staff and animal handlers ensured the animals received specialist care and attention to keep them calm during the journey.
After the animals landed at Heathrow, a specialist pet courier then drove through the night to bring Hugo and Elsa to Dogs4Rescue, where they are now staying until they can be adopted by new families after the coronavirus lockdown is over.
British Airways Captain, Paul Walker-Northwood, who flew the plane and has previously adopted four dogs of his own from Cyprus Dog Rescue, said: 'In these difficult times, our teams are working around the clock to help bring customers home and fly essential supplies into the UK and to communities around the world most in need.
Pictured: The British Airways Boeing 747 at the airport in Cyprus before flying to the UK with Hugo, Elsa, 34 other dogs and 14 cats on board
The plane was flown by Captain Paul Walker-Northwood (pictured) who himself has rescued four dogs from the Cyprus Dog Rescue that is run by Siddons
The plane was flown by Captain Paul Walker-Northwood (pictured) who himself has rescued four dogs from the Cyprus Dog Rescue that is run by Siddons
'As well as bringing in those supplies on this flight, we were pleased to support this mission to bring these new four-legged family members to the UK to give them the chance of better, more comfortable lives here with their new owners.
He added: 'We are sure their arrival will bring real much-needed pleasure to their new families during a challenging period.'
Siddons moved to Cyprus 11 years ago to open a clothing store, before launching her charity in 2011 after coming across a shockingly large number of stray dogs in the country.
She rescued Elsa when she was discovered as a stray by a member of the public and taken to a municipal pound before rescuing Hugo days later when he was discovered in a field.
When she was found, Elsa weighed just 2st 3lbs (14kg), little more than half the healthy weight for a dog of her breed at 4st 4lbs (27kg), while Hugo was even more underweight, weighing 1st 8lbs (10kg), less than half the healthy size for his breed at 3st 9lbs (23kg).
Being such low weights can damage dogs' organs, but other than severe dehydration and starvation, miraculously neither Elsa nor Hugo were suffering from any other medical conditions.
Emma Billington from Dogs4Rescue, where the dogs are currently staying until they find new homes, said: 'Andrea went to extraordinary lengths. 'We are in constant awe at her ability, will and determination. We are so proud to know Andrea and be able to take some of her dogs.
'The behind the scenes level of organisation and stress to make this happen is hard to comprehend - she is so brave and so selfless.' 

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