According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 164 million households in America owned pets in 2012. If you're one of the lucky owners of a beloved dog or cat and are planning to relocate overseas, chances are the health and safety of your furriest family members is one of your biggest concerns. From getting your pet's paperwork in order to ensuring they're safe and comfortable on the plane, here are a few tips for anyone who is relocating overseas with their pets:
The Legal Requirements of Transporting Your Pet
Packing all your belongings and having them transported overseas is a long, complicated process. That's why there are companies like Hollander Storage & Moving. However, it's often nothing compared to the logistical hassle involved with taking your pet with you to another country.
Before beginning this journey, it's important to ask yourself one vital question: Should my pet move with me? If you're only relocating abroad for a few months, consider leaving your pet in the United States with a friend or family member. However, if this is a permanent move and you couldn't leave your dog or cat behind, realize the process of readying them for the journey can take weeks – or even months.
The best place to begin is by contacting the consulate or embassy of the country to which you are relocating. Ask about any restrictions or guidelines that are in place regarding your dog or cat. For example, you may be required to quarantine your pet for a set amount of time upon entering the country.
No matter where you're moving, chances are you will be instructed to provide a letter from your veterinarian regarding the pet's overall health and vaccinations. During the exam, ask the veterinarian about any of your concerns, including if your dog or cat is fit enough for such an exhausting journey.
Getting on the Airplane
Once you have all the required documentation in order, it's time to jump over the next hurdle: getting your pet on the airplane. The best place to begin this leg of your journey is by contacting the airline directly to learn about any of its restrictions and requirements.
For example, some airlines will allow you to bring your dog or cat along with you in a small animal carrier that is approved by the International Air Transport Association. The crate should be large enough for your pet to turn around and lie down. If this isn't possible, the next option is to have your pet stored in a cargo hold. However, this isn't advisable if your pet is older or suffers from a medical condition that must be closely monitored, such as diabetes.
Provide your pet with a small meal approximately five to six hours before you plan to board the plane. This gap helps ensure they don't get airsick and make an unfortunate mess in their crate!
A few minutes before boarding, place your pet on a leash, including your cat, and allow them to wander around on a safe, grassy surface before climbing into the pet carrier.
Finally, as an added safety measure, it's best to provide your pet with a tag featuring your name and cellphone number. Also, keep a photo of your pet handy. The picture will make it easier for the airport personnel to find your pet once you land.
Relocating to an entirely different country is an exhausting, although rewarding experience. If you're planning to bring your pet, don't hesitate to begin gathering the necessary paperwork and making sure your dog or cat is healthy enough to travel as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might wind up postponing your trip while you satisfy the legal requirements of your new home country.