And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #259: Ariana Grande v P&O Ferries

By | Published on Friday 5 June 2015

Ariana Grande

Do your eyes deceive you? Are there two Beefs Of The Week this week? You’re damn right there are. It is BBC Music Day, after all. Plus, I only saw this one after I spent ages on the Mat Zo story, but it was too good to ignore.

This is a tale of injustice and dogs. A David and Goliath story in which one popstar and her mother stand up to the might of P&O Ferries. It’s about time, I tell you. About bloody time. Not since the Justin Bieber monkey debacle have we seen such a big popstar pet story, and this one has a very different outcome.

Bieber, of course, chose to abandon his monkey in Germany when he was told he didn’t have the correct paperwork for it to travel around Europe. But Ariana Grande and her mother Joan did not roll over so easily when they were told that they didn’t have the correct paperwork to take their two dogs, Toulouse and Sirius, on a boat from Calais to Dover.

“SO, I am about to tell the story of my experience crossing from Calais France to Dover, UK on the FERRY”, began Joan in the first of a series of tweets. “Worst experience of my life”.

She continued: “The P&O Ferry was lovely, just to set things straight, the people at the FERRY BORDER were HORRIBLE to me and to Toulouse and Sirius. We are all back together again in London, BUT I need to tell this horrible story, because it needs to be told. Please know that I am telling the story, not for sympathy, because I have the best blessed life in the world, and I am so grateful. I’m telling the story because abusive people shouldn’t be in power and we must stand together, when we see bullying and abuse and MAKE IT STOP!”

These are some pretty bold words. And realising, unlike Mat Zo, that a long string of 140 character tweets wasn’t necessarily the best way to get her story across, Grande Senior then switched to Twitlonger, posting her missive under the possibly-a-little-over-the-top title, ‘That time Ariana Grande’s dogs were almost murdered’.

The story is long and very detailed, but it begins, like all good stories, with a bit of tedious bureaucracy. Arriving to board the ferry, the dogs having been cleared for travel, Joan was told that it was not permitted for dogs to be transported onto a ferry on a bus (ie her daughter’s tour bus), only a car. After some to-ing and fro-ing, she asked if it would be okay to bring the dogs through if she convinced another traveller with a car to let her travel in with them, and was told that yes it would.

However, after further hurdles, she was then told that, according to official records, the dogs did not have one of the vaccinations they needed to enter the UK. But while this vaccination had not been given with the others back in the US, Grande said, it had been administered by a vet in Italy three days earlier. Though the available evidence of this, it was apparently decided by the man standing between them and the ferry, was not sufficient.

At this point, the anger that can only come when you’re at a border, faced with a technicality stopping you from travelling, at 4am, finally came out.

“THAT WAS IT! I lost my composure”, wrote Joan. “I am embarrassed to say that I became VERY VERY VERY angry and told him that HE WAS WRONG, he was holding me and the dogs hostage from my family and he was taking GREAT PLEASURE in doing so. He single-handedly was detaining me in France for NO REASON and AGAINST MY WILL! I begged him to let me go through, he laughed at me and said NO again. I kept telling him and showing him again that the dogs were fully vaccinated and were 100% vaccinated in order to enter the UK… AND THEN, I screamed!”

“I had done EVERY RIDICULOUS TASK he demanded of me and at this point he said he would call the POLICE and have me arrested if I tried to go through. I told him to call them and to arrest me, because that was the only way I was not getting on the ferry”.

She then ran to the car she’d planned to use to board the boat, and then to the tour bus, where security staff did arrive to detain her. “I collected myself, took a deep breath and ran out yelling: ‘Take me away with the dogs and I will sue you for abuse and harassment, but go ahead, I will go with you’. I told them that they were wrong, they were targeting Americans, they were abusing their authority… THEY LAUGHED”.

Did they laugh because they were specifically targeting Americans and their dogs, or because the concept seemed silly? We may never know. And if you thought this was all getting a bit over the top, well this is where the dog murder comes in.

“At this point, one man in a yellow jacket said to me, ‘If you take the dogs, when you arrive in Dover, they will be KILLED!'”, continued Joan Grande. “Due to his French accent, I wasn’t 100% certain of what he said, so I asked him to repeat it… he said the DOGS WOULD BE KILLED! I actually thought I disengaged from my body as tears started streaming down my face, and I felt as if I were losing my mind! I told him that they would have to KILL ME FIRST and we would see what the US EMBASSY would say about that”.

This is now beyond ‘4am border control technicality’ anger. This has become ‘a scene’. Though thankfully no dogs were in fact murdered. But only because Ariana’s older brother Frankie came to the rescue with some diplomacy and an understanding of the French language. It was agreed that he would take the dogs back to Calais and travel through with them later, once everything had been smoothed over. There’s actually a further story about that, but I think we’re all pretty exhausted by now and would like to move on so that we can get back to celebrating BBC Music Day. So let’s just cut to the end where the dogs get to the UK and everything is fine.

Except is everything fine? The dogs got through, sure. But that doesn’t change the fact that all of this happened. Both Joan and Ariana have since called on P&O Ferries repeatedly to make amends. Ariana tweeted: “This was unacceptable. P&O Ferries please have your employees treat people/animals with respect. Kindness goes a long way. The pups were safe and sound thanks to Frankie but it was indeed a terrible experience. No animal/human should be treated that way… ever”.

P&O responded in a statement: “We completely understand and sympathise with Ms Grande’s frustration, given her attempts to do the right thing. However, the documents she presented were not valid to bring her pets into the UK. There are only two documents we can accept. One is a Pet Passport, the other is a Third Country Veterinary Certificate. The appropriate verification of treatments must be written into these documents”.

It continued: “We had no alternative: we had to advise that a local vet should be visited to put everything in order. We carry in the region of 40,000 pets a year between Calais and Dover as a matter of routine. However from time to time we have to decline to carry pets due to irregularities with the documentation stipulated by [the UK government]”.

So, hey everyone, chill out. Transporting pets around is a bureaucracy-heavy task, cos of not wanting diseases to spread across borders and all that. Sometimes it’s just got to be this way, and all’s well that ends well, right? Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

And to prove that it’s still wrong, Joan tweeted pictures of the documents that she says support her claim that the dogs were properly cleared for travel. So it seems that, as far as Grande Senior is concerned, this is still a matter of P&O Ferries staff persecuting Americans. And, as such, she demands at the very least a proper apology.

In fact, she has gone to the length of launching a petition calling on P&O to issue an apology “or be SHUT DOWN”. I’m not exactly sure who would be doing the shutting down. Would P&O shut itself down in shame? Surely an apology would be easier.

Although it could possibly be argued that calling for an entire company to be shut because of one incident might seem a little entitled. Which might suggest Grande’s telling of the story is a little bit weighted to make it appear that P&O staff acted in a worse manner than they actually did. But I guess we’ll never know. Still, I think if there’s one thing we can take from all of this, it’s that people shouldn’t own dogs.

Read Joan and Ariana’s tweets about the incident here.