I’d be remiss in not mentioning that it is the pet owner’s responsibility to stay on top of possible changes regarding regulations and laws. In extreme cases, a pet can be put down if all steps are not followed to specification.

Moving to a new city or country can appear glamorous and thrilling. From new cultures, fun adventures, exciting foods to sample and a fresh start to your life; who wouldn’t want to pack and leave? However, add the family pet into the mix, and you have another hectic layer to navigate. Simply put, moving with your pet is not for the faint of heart. There are many variables to consider, and the process can be intimidating and expensive. It can be daunting to know where to start but with a bit a research you and your pet can be well on your way to a new start in a new country.

IMG: Moving Day – Checklist. Guy Kilroy. CCBYSA 2.0

When I accepted a teaching job in London, UK I knew immediately that I wanted my Shih Tzu, Cinnamon, to join me. With a start date in August, I had eight months to get all the paperwork, vaccinations and transport sorted. Since I was moving during the summer, almost all of the airlines refused to fly brachycephalic breeds if the temperature was above 84 degrees in the departing and arriving city. Depending on your breed and where you are moving, flying your dog may not be an option.

The easiest way to transport your pet is on an airplane. It‘s the quickest way, and if you handle the paperwork yourself, it can be the cheapest as well. If you would rather a pet transport company do all the work, be prepared to pay upwards of $6000 depending on the size and breed of your dog. Check out ipata.org (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association), as they are a leader in providing information about shipping your furry friend. In the end, I chose to have Cinnamon sail to London on the Queen Mary 2. It was too risky to fly him in cargo, and it was actually cheaper. The lesson here is to be sure to check for all options of transport into the new country.

IMG: “Queen Mary 2 is the only liner to regularly carry animals. Her kennels, which are staffed by a dedicated Kennel Master and can be accessed by owners.” – Cunard.com

It is imperative that you know the requirements for your pet to enter another country. Does the pet need to be quarantined? What vaccinations are needed? What is the timeline that you need to follow? Will the USDA have to approve the paperwork? All of these questions necessitate extensive research. Pettravel.com and aphis.usda.gov are excellent resources that outline what is required for almost any country. Be sure to have a certified veterinarian on call, as they are the ones who will complete the health certificate and administer all necessary vaccinations.

Cinnamon had to have a health certificate with updated rabies and microchip information. The USDA denied our paperwork twice, so everything has to be followed faultlessly. In addition, we only had ten days to get the health certificate stamped by the USDA. Throw in a federal holiday, a missed vet appointment and the situation was tense. Add in the fact that he also had to have a tapeworm treatment no more than 120 hours and no less the 24 hours of boarding the ship. Did I mention that I was already in London and had friends do all of this for me?

There are instances, though, when a country will require that your pet be quarantined. This is often contingent upon whether the country of origin is considered rabies free. New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and New Caledonia are infamous for lengthy quarantine stays, sometimes as long as six months. In these cases, the pet owner is also responsible for the fees associated with the boarding.  I’d be remiss in not mentioning that it is the pet owner’s responsibility to stay on top of possible changes regarding regulations and laws. In extreme cases, a pet can be put down if all steps are not followed to specification. I can’t imagine anything worse than going through the entire process only to lose a sacred member of the family due to a simple misstep.

In the end, Cinnamon arrived in Southampton safe and sound. He enjoyed a seven-day voyage on a luxury ocean liner. He dined daily on chicken and rice and met the love of his life, Bella- a 6-month-old, 100-pound ginger colored Bull Mastiff. With all the mishaps, stress and tears, it was completely worth the three-month wait to be reunited with my fur baby. And honestly, that is what it boils down to; is your pet worth the time, stress and money involved? If so, be sure to embrace the experience and focus on the good times together in your new country.

Once your pet is settled, be sure to schedule an appointment with a new vet. Here in the United Kingdom, Cinnamon received a pet passport that allows him to travel effortlessly between EU nations. He also needed a new set of vaccinations that are important for his health in England. You also want to be sure that your pet didn’t suffer any trauma during the move.

It’s safe to say that Cinnamon has adapted well to life in London and if you listen closely, you might hear the British accent in his bark.  

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