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Pet Travel for Dogs and Cats

by Ely Acker

If you have a dog or a cat, it is possible to travel and live abroad with them. I am not sure about other pets, but you can always check with the airline and the country’s embassy that you plan to visit. The first time I traveled with my dog, Cody, was back in 2003. At that time, it took about a year to get him ready for the trip. I was planning on going to England and had heard about the mandatory quarantine. This really concerned me, because not only would I be responsible for the costly boarding fees, he would have been there for several months. Thankfully, I had a wonderful, well-traveled veterinary that told me about the U.K. pet scheme, which is still in use today.When I arrived in England, Cody only spent four hours at the airport so that the authorities could verify his paperwork. This gave me enough time to check in at the hotel. And by the way, finding a hotel that allows pets was quite easy. In fact, it is fairly easy in most of Europe. However, in Latin America it was a bit challenging. This hotel that was nearby catered to pets.

The only place Cody wasn’t allowed in was the restaurant.

And when it was time to get him, they had a van waiting for me. I picked him up from the airport without a problem.

Don’t be fooled by costly services that promise to make things easier. You can do it just as easy yourself and with the help of a qualified veterinarian. The scheme is also clearly outlined online under pet travel and pet scheme. Make sure you start the process at least eight months beforehand to insure the process goes smoothly. Your pet does not have to undergo the stress of being in quarantine if you follow the rules and plan ahead. You will need enough time for a blood screen, microchip, vaccinations, and for all the paperwork to be approved through the proper channels. The cost can vary depending on your pet, how many pets you have, and in what country you are applying for the stamp of approval.

The next important step is to double or even triple check that the airline you plan on flying with allows pets in cargo or on-board. This is just as important as getting the right paperwork. In 2011, I flew with my two dogs, Nunca and Oso, from Costa Rica to Prague. I did everything I was supposed to, so I thought. At the time of booking, I had told the agent that I would be traveling with two dogs and they said that I could only take one. However, the agent then said that they would make an exception and made a note of that. What they forgot to tell me was that they didn’t allow dogs on any flights Friday through Sunday.

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A week before my flight, I called the airline to make a pet reservation and give them the sizes of the crates and the dogs’ weight. I was completely shocked, angered and every other emotion when I found that they wouldn’t allow them to fly on Friday. And to rebook the flight was an additional $1000, because I didn’t purchase insurance for the re-booking fee.

So, getting to Prague wasn’t as easy as it was getting Cody from the U.S. to England. A lot of people ask me if I drugged my dogs. I don’t think that is a good idea unless it is absolutely necessary and recommended by your veterinarian.

Calling ahead a week before your flight and then again a day or two just to confirm the reservation is important. The cargo area has to be pressurized and have proper temperature control, but if something goes wrong, your dog’s natural defenses to keep warm or cool will not work properly if sedated. However, if you are bringing them on-board and you have a little barker, then I would ask your veterinarian about the best way to keep your pet quiet.

I have traveled to Canada, England, Scotland, China, Costa Rica and Prague with my dogs. None of them have spent one day in quarantine. So, with a little planning ahead, set aside some savings, have the proper approved cage and paperwork, you should be able to travel with your beloved pet just about anywhere.

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