Russian dog gets the red carpet

A super-rich couple coming to Auckland on holiday are paying the Government an undisclosed sum to avoid sending their dog into quarantine.

Russian fertiliser billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, 42, is coming to check the paint job on his $350 million superyacht ‘A' at Auckland Wynyard Quarter.

It is called "A" after his wife Aleksandra Melnichenko who travels the world with her husband on a private jet - and won't go anywhere without her dog Vala.

A website, Bornrich, claims Aleksandra "loves Vala to death" and "is her constant companion wherever she goes".

"One of the most royal pooches in the world, Vala has travelled to many vacation spots with his masters Andrey and Aleksandra."

A spokesman for the Ministry for Primary Industries said one of its vets would meet Melnichenko's jet at Auckland Airport and would accompany the dog aboard "A" for 10 days, in lieu of quarantine.

He said the arrangement would not compromise New Zealand biosecurity.

The Russians would pay all costs.

"A" - which is slightly larger than New Zealand's Navy frigates - has been in Auckland for four months undergoing a paint job.

The futuristic design of "A" is said to prevent intruders from boarding.

It can accommodate 14 guests and up to 37 crew.

The couple married in France in 2005, spending $4m getting in a special wedding singer - Christina Aguilera.

Sunday Star Times