A Sunshine Coast woman is going to extraordinary lengths to be reunited with her pet pooch — a former Bali street dog — ordering a private jet to fly her from New Zealand.
Munchkin has been in New Zealand for the past two years, waiting to come to Australia
The former Balinese street dog’s owners have been trying to get Munchkin “home” to Australia for six years
Owner Natasha Corbin is negotiating with travelers to share a charter flight with Munchkin
Natasha Corbin has spent the past six years trying to get Munchkin into Australia after falling in love with her while living in Bali with her fiancé David Daynes.
The couple had been living in Bali as Ms Corbin runs an online marketing business and was able to work remotely.
“When we decided to move to Bali, my partner had one rule for me because I’m such a dog lover and that was that I wasn’t allowed to interact with any dog,” Ms Corbin said.
“I just ignored all of the dogs as best as I could and this dog, Munchkin, she was just a little tiny puppy, would follow us around because she had just somehow ended up near our villa.”
There have been many twists and turns to Munchkin’s journey to Australia since Ms Corbin first laid eyes on her as a puppy six years ago.
“The reason we were in New Zealand was we had to live there for a while to get our dog cleared to come to Australia,” Ms Corbin said.
She said international pet quarantine restrictions made it easier to bring a dog to Australia from New Zealand rather than Indonesia so the couple moved there two years ago.
But Ms Corbin has been separated from Munchkin and Mr Daynes for the past five months after returning to Australia for surgery on the Gold Coast.
Now she’s taking drastic action by hiring a private jet and trying to sell seats to human passengers to offset some of the cost.
“I just want them home and I want to take the option that’s most likely to work and if that means we have to pay extra and try and sell these [private jet] seats and do all of this extra work, I’m willing to do it,” she said.
A jet doesn’t come cheap, however, with a $40,000 to $45,000 price tag, so Ms Corbin has reached out to the Sunshine Coast community to find human travelers also wanting a seat on the plane.
“I have been inundated with people sharing their stories of how they’ve been stuck and they’ve had their flights canceled over and over again,” she said.
“They’re just desperate to get back with their family for Christmas.”
An ongoing saga
Failing to rehome the puppy a number of times in Bali, Ms Corbin decided to bring her home to Australia, but she didn’t realize the hoops she had to go through.
“We were told the process would take about six to eight weeks and cost us about $10,000, but it’s now been almost six years trying,” Ms Corbin said.
Munchkin’s quest for Australian residency has seen the pooch live in four foster homes in Singapore, including a penthouse — a far cry from her humble beginnings on the streets of Bali.
Her journey has been plagued by health-related travel restrictions pre-dating the pandemic, after being bitten by a tick while transiting through Singapore.
During that time Ms Corbin and Mr Daynes relocated back to Bali so they could fly to Singapore to visit Munchkin once a month.
Munchkin consistently failed health tests to get into Australia but, after being deemed non-contagious, she finally received an official permit last week to enter the country.
A plane for ‘million-dollar Munchkin’
With COVID-19 further complicating their quest, Ms Corbin said ordering a private jet to transport her now six-year-old dog to Australia was her only option.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is that getting the dog out of New Zealand she needs to go through Auckland, and flights to go from the North Island aren’t considered green zone,” Ms Corbin said.
“Also, flights from the South Island of New Zealand direct through into Queensland have largely been cancelled, and there’s very little availability.”
She said with COVID-19 quarantine restrictions between the North Island of New Zealand and Queensland, Mr Daynes would be in quarantine for Christmas and Munchkin would be unable to travel on a commercial flight until January next year due to availability.
The irony is not lost on Ms Corbin.
“I have been saying to my partner for the past two or three years, ‘Imagine if something happens, and we end up flying her home on a private jet’,” she said.
The next step is selecting other passengers and managing weight limits.
Ms Corbin said she was meeting 11 people from New Zealand via Zoom to work out who could arrange to be on the plane to Brisbane at short notice.
“It will just be whoever is able to book in with us because we really would like to organize the flight for next week,” she said.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to take seven other people because of weight restrictions so we might only be able to fit five other people at this stage.”
At this stage, anyone on the flight from the South Island should not have to quarantine on arrival according to Queensland government guidelines.
Ms Corbin is eagerly awaiting the arrival of an import certificate for Munchkin, which would bring her home without having to quarantine, six years and tens of thousands of dollars later.
“Wouldn’t that be the ultimate success story from this street dog from Bali that we just found underneath our scooter one day?”