Going Abroad With Your Jack

Would you leave your human child behind if you went on vacation? More to the point, would you leave them if you moved?

Well, a lot of us feel the same way about our dogs. Traveling — and moving — with your dog can be a joy. But you have to do it right.

Should You Bring Your Jack Along?

The first question you have to ask yourself is whether travel is right for your dog. If your dog is in good physical and mental health, then they should be fine.

On the other hand, air travel can be stressful to both the body and the mind. It can be noisy, and dark, and temperatures can fluctuate between very hot and very cold. If your Jack is older, has physical problems, or is a sensitive or fearful pup, then air travel might be unnecessarily cruel.

Do They Really Have to Ride with the Cargo?

That depends on the airline. Some airlines will allow your dog to travel with you in the cabin if your carrier will fit under the seat in front. But not all airlines do. Some airlines allow it, but only on certain flights. And sometimes the airline will require you to pay an additional fee.

Vaccinations and Microchip

If you're traveling or moving abroad, different countries will require different things. Most will require a rabies vaccination and a microchip. Sometimes there will be other requirements, such as tapeworm treatment.

And a lot of times you will have to fulfill the different requirements in a certain order, according to a certain schedule.

The USDA has a helpful website where you can learn about the different requirements for importing pets to different countries. It's important to follow those requirements to the letter, as failing to do so may result in your pet being refused entry or even quarantined for several months.

There may also be different requirements for going between states in the United States. The USDA/APHIS website has that information as well.

Traveling With You? Or Without You?

If you're going abroad, there may be different rules for traveling with your pet on the same day, or traveling separately at different times. So make your decision, and check the USDA website to figure out exactly what you'll need to do.

Customs and Paperwork

If you're traveling internationally, your pet will have to clear customs, just like you will. And this means having your paperwork in order.

When we moved from the United States to Europe, our dog and cat had to have specific forms filled out and signed by a USDA-certified veterinarian. Then, the day before they traveled, the paperwork had to be walked through the local USDA office and certified. We also had to administer an anti-tapeworm medication within 24 hours of travel.

Various factors will affect which paperwork you need, which treatments and vaccinations you'll have to have, and the timetable on which all of these things must be completed.

But it's vital that you know what to do, and that you do it to the best of your ability.

Working With a Pet Transport Company

Are your palms sweating just reading this? Does it sound complicated and stressful? It certainly can be. And that's why I recommend working with a pet transport company.

I had to shop around for the right pet transport company, but when I found it, I was glad. I told them that I needed them to pick up my dog and cat, take them to our new country, bring them through customs, and deliver them to our new home. I would do everything prior to pickup, but I wanted them to handle everything inbetween.

It wasn't cheap, but boy, was it worth it.

Find the Right Company

The problem is, of course, finding the right pet transport company. There are a lot of scams out there. And a lot of unreliable companies as well. Here are my tips for finding a good pet transport company.

First, do your research. You need to know the process backward and forward, so you can make sure that they do as well.

Second, good communication. If they don't answer your phone calls, you don't want to work with them.

Third, know what you want to do, and find a company that does exactly that.

Finally, make sure your pet transport company is a member of IPATA, the International Pet and Animal Transport Association. IPATA holds their member companies to strict standards of animal welfare and professionalism. All IPATA members are registered with the USDA, and adhere to the rules set out by the Live Animals Regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). They also follow the USDA rules about animal welfare.

You can search the IPATA website for a member company near you. Better yet, if you have a friend who has used a pet transporter, ask them for a rec.

Your Pet Travel Checklist

So you've decided to travel with your Jack. Bon voyage! Here are a few suggestions to make the process easier.

  • Check the USDA/APHIS website to find out the requirements for your specific travel.
  • Ask your veterinarian if they're familiar with international or interstate pet transport regulations. Our vet's office manager was a lifesaver.
  • Also ask your vet if they are USDA-certified and can sign transport paperwork.
  • Find a good, IPATA-certified transporter. Negotiate your services, and get it in writing.

Traveling with your Jack can be a complicated business. But it can be worth it to keep your best friend by your side.