If a pet comes along, you need to go through the following procedures and decisions at a very early stage. It takes time to get a pet through the immigration process and to prepare pet for its new life in a very different environment.
If your pet has any health problems, you need to reconsider your decision. During quarantine the normal care a pet needs is very much reduced to the basics and health problems can aggravate a situation which is easily under control when the pet is in your
care. Quarantine providers are not a care giving institution (even if they provide vet services!) but are there to minimize the risk of contagious diseases entering a country via an animal.
The annual booster given to your pet should have been given less than 12 months and more than 14 days before departure. Other inoculations may be required. All have to be registered in an official vaccination card.
If a pet is older than ten years, some countries require a confirmation of health and a letter of indemnity to the quarantine provider as at this age a strenuous flight and quarantine may be fatal.
Pet’s Race and the Tropics
Besides fighting dogs, which are not permitted to enter many Southeast Asian countries, a pet owner needs to consider the impact of the tropical climate on the health of the pet. Your pet may turn very lethargic from the heat and even become sick.
A breed equipped for arctic subzero temperatures does not live well in the tropics with
permanent temperatures of above 30°C! (90° F) and will suffer tremendously. A dog’s life in an air-conditioned home with no chance to roam outside freely is a poor life. Breeds suitable for a normal climate will generally adjust within 4 -6 weeks.
Pet’s Immigration Papers
Immigration procedures for a pet can be exhausting and you need the help of an experienced Pet Relocation specialist based in the area. You should only deal with those
organized in the IPATA or AATA, both recognized Associations of Animal Transportation. If your pet lands without proper compliance to veterinary entry requirements your pet may be destroyed or repatriated. Owners are subject to legal prosecution with hefty penalties. Once your pet has left there is no chance for rectification. Many airlines cannot accept transporting your pet without the assistance of such animal transport specialist as they cannot provide experts for your pet’s special needs.
Pet’s Transport Alternatives
As mentioned above, first you need to determine the way your pet is transported and who is paying the transfer. The alternatives and their advantages and disadvantages
Send pet as air cargo on a nonstop flight.
The least expensive alternative, but stressful for the pet. Pet has to be without food and
a chance to go for a walk for the total length of the flight.
Send pet as air cargo on a stopover flight.
More expensive, less stressful as pet is taken out of the cage during stopover and water bottle can be filled up.
Send pet as excess baggage on the same flight with you.
Same length of time as your flight. You may be able to take pet for a walk if a stopover is planned. This depends on the immigration laws of the stopover country. Very expensive alternative.
Pet’s Sedation with Tranquilizers
Contrary to some vet’s advice, there are a number of counter arguments to be considered in tranquilizing your pet.
As an exception to some other animal medications, tranquilizers used in humans cannot be given to a pet. Pets may have a contrary reaction and become hyperactive.
Animal tranquilizers shut down the body’s auto-mechanism and suppress the respiratory system with the danger of underlying and undetected health problems occurring during the sedation period. As there will be nobody able to check on your pet during the long flight, you run a high risk for your pet.
When sedated your pet will not be able to drink and will dehydrate during the transfer.
There is no research so far to determine the effect of tranquilizers on pets at an altitude of 8,000 feet or higher.
Book Pet’s Quarantine Space
A critical point for a successful relocation of your pet is the quarantine which can last from 30 days to 4 months in Southeast Asian countries. Depending on the origin some pets do not have to go through quarantine at all (e.g. those heading to Singapore from Australia, New Zealand and UK).
Quarantine space can be booked air-conditioned, with a fan or a normal cage, where it is understood that a room with air-conditioning would be the best and most expensive choice.
Think about where to leave your pet when quarantine is over and you have not settled into a new home. You need a good kennel with the most minimal risk of contagious diseases. Your pet relocation specialist should be able to advise you. There are various opinions about visiting a pet in quarantine.
It is important to check on the pet’s health and the care supplied, but on the other hand, the pet expects you to take it with you each time you visit. This is a very disappointing experience. Consider having a friend check on the pet as an alternative.
Provide a Cage/Box
Cages for air freight need to be airline approved and you should ask your pet transport expert for advice. Samsonite (yes, the luggage company) supplies a number of carriers for those allowed to take their small pets on board.
Generally a pet transport box needs to have the following components:
- When the pet stands on its paws in the box there need to be 2-3 inches of space above its head.
- There needs to be ventilation on three sides of the cage.
- The pet must be able to turn comfortably within the cage.
Pet’s Water Supply
Buy a large water feeder bottle (dog waterer) with a steel feeder, which will be attached to the box. It is not suitable to place a bowl into the cage, as the water will be spilled
whatever the depth of the bowl. Pets should be last fed 10 hours before the flight.
During the move itself, the pet should stay with friends, as it will be in the way all the time. Get your pet used to its transport box and discuss advantages and disadvantages of tranquilizer with your vet for the flight.
The long haul flight will be a traumatic experience for your pet and you have to be aware of the consequences. Make sure pet is welcomed by the landlord of your transition home and permanent future home and that possible domestic helpers (maids) do not object to care for the pet because of religious reasons.
For instance, Muslims are not allowed to touch dogs! Do not forget to prepare pet’s baggage and food for the flight.
Pet’s Travel Preparations
- Get your pet used to the cage
- Get pet used to drinking from the feeder bottle
- Prepare an envelope with pet’s photo and documents (keep copies)
- Write your telephone numbers/address in destination country on a paper to include in envelope.
- Prepare a sealed plastic bag with the collar and the leash.
- The pet may be in the cage without a collar.
- Prepare a small flat bag with pet’s food.
- Pet should have its last meal 10 hours before boarding.
- Give pet water shortly before boarding.
- Write the name of pet, the mover’s name, the destination on the box with a water resistant pen. (Include flight numbers and airlines)
- Be aware that the box might be exposed to heavy rain and items attached have to be waterproof.