Five Tips for Safe and Humane International Pet Relocation
Owning or adopting a pet should be for life, no matter what corner of the world your career or other circumstances send you to. When planning an international move, transporting your beloved pet is just one part of the long and daunting list of preparations that must be made. Many people feel compelled to find a new home for their pets rather than subject them to traumatic transportation. However, there are steps you can take to make the journey as easy as possible for your pet.
- Contact the local consulate of the destination country: The first step in planning an international trip with a pet should be to contact the consulate of the destination country to find out the import requirements for your pet. Some countries require lengthy quarantine, others have stricter standards, and some only accept pets at certain airports within the country. The most important thing to remember is that, just like human travel, pets also need additional documentation to enter the desired country. Each country is different, and each requires documentation to accept pets.
- Find an airline that is willing to work with you: Contact the airlines that fly to your intended destination, select one, and then check with them to see if they will accept your pet on the day and flight you prefer. This will allow you to see if that date is suitable or if you can work around their flight schedule. As soon as you board the plane, ask a flight attendant to confirm that your pet is on board. This way, if there was a mix-up and your pet was not taken on board, you will have a better chance of getting compensation. Some airlines allow you to carry small pet carriers in the main cabin, but only if they can be placed under the seat in front of you.
- Visit the veterinarian before the flight: Your veterinarian should be consulted well in advance of your departure date. He or she will perform a thorough examination of your pet and advise you on any potential problems. He or she will also be able to help you if you have any questions or concerns. Make sure you have all the required documents, as indicated when you contacted the consulate of your destination.
- Limit food consumption the day before travel: Even if they don’t agree at the start, your pet’s chances of having a comfortable trip can be increased by limiting their pre-trip food. Prepare your pet for travel by reducing the amount of food the night before the flight. Provide normal access to water, as dehydration is a serious hazard. Be sure to walk your dog before you get to the airport and before check-in, which should be 1-2 hours before the flight.
- Pack your pet’s crate or carrier with the essentials: The big day is here! While your pet is out of your sight and out of your mind, make it as easy as possible for the airline staff to handle your pet. Your pet’s crate should meet the airline’s standards and be large enough for your pet to lie down comfortably, turn around and stand freely. Label the crate “Live Animal – This Side Up” and include your name, address, and phone number. At least two bowls of water and dry food should be attached to the top of the crate in case the flight is delayed. Any medication used for your pet should also be recorded with the name of the medication, time, and instructions for administration.