So you’ve spent the day relaxing on the beach, sipping cold coconuts and watching the sunset on a hot, sticky night, when there is a wriggle from under the table next to you, a flash of fur. Before you know it, you have your arms full of wriggling puppy, or purring kitten. And every night it’s the same. You and your new friend are in love, and you can already imagine introducing him to your parents, siblings, hamster. But how easy is it really to take your new friend home?
Consider realistically how long you can stay in the country where you have found the dog (or cat, but we will use ‘dog’ interchangeably in this context!). If you are from Europe, then it will take a little over 4 months before you can fly your new love home. For Canada and USA it is considerably less, around 4 weeks. For Australia and NZ it is considerably more complex, so please contact us for advice directly.
You don’t have to be in the country with your dog the whole time, you can leave your dog at one of the many foster homes available, and return back to the country when your dog is ready to fly or you have extended your visa etc. Foster homes are affordable but their quality varies from a kennel and dog run setting, to air-conditioned rooms and experienced dog walkers and groomers. You could also ask around the local area for someone kind enough to take care of your dog while you are away, however you should expect to prepare all paperwork yourself.
You will need to, therefore, decide when the dog will travel with you, and when a foster arrangement will be necessary. Action For Dogs are currently building a database of foster homes, please contact us for assistance.
Take the dog to the vets! First, they will check his blood to ensure he is healthy, and they will inspect the dog gums, temperature and general health. Then it’s vaccine time!
Your dog will need his microchip inserted first, and then his rabies vaccine and his first mixed vaccine. The vet will issue you with a vaccine book with future appointments listed. Ensure the vet knows that only one rabies vaccine is needed as not all vets have experience with sending animals abroad. The vet should manually sign each vaccine label in the book, and the book should be completed with breed, colour, sex and date of birth. The microchip sticker should be inserted into the relevant part of the book. Ask your vet at this point to register your ownership and send off for the ownership certificates.
For America, that’s pretty much it until departure! Skip to step 4
After 30 days you will need to take your dog to get his blood taken for the rabies titer test, which is needed for all European destinations. The blood should be spun and sent by DHL to ensure it reaches the destination lab before the sample deteriorates, which is approximately 7 days without refrigeration. We use BioBest in Scotland, and can highly recommend them! They can send you all forms on request, which you print and take to the vets with you during this appointment. You can also work out your dogs earliest flight date, today + 90 days!
Assuming you have passed the titer test (congratulations!) or don’t need one (USA/Canada) then your next step is to book your dog onto a flight home. For most airports this is very straightforward – call your airline and ask them about their pet policies. If your airline does not allow pets, or you cannot fly at the same time as your pet, then you will need a flight volunteer. If you are planning on bringing your pet into the UK then it can be considerably cheaper and less stress to the animal if brought in via Amsterdam or Paris.
We recommend using an agency to help you check all your paperwork is in order, transport you and your dog around Bangkok (pet taxis can be expensive!) and check you in at the airport. We use Relo4Paws which you can find on facebook.
The final steps can be the most stressful, and there is no room for error here, which is why we recommend using an agency as mentioned above. You will need to take your dog to a government approved vet for de-worming no more than 5 days before the dog’s arrival date at your home destination (not necessary for cats). When this is done, hop over to Livestock office at the airport and expect to wait, and wait. Bring water for the dog and a good book! When it’s finally your turn, the vet will take your photo, check your dog over, check all the paperwork and will issue the relevant permits.
It’s departure day! Give your dog a light breakfast and water, and a good walk in the morning. Ensure you arrive at the airport with at least 3 hours to spare and head over to your check-in desk where they will check your paperwork, issue “oversized baggage” tickets, zip tie the crate and then they are gone! And it’s just you standing at the airport, nervous and lost because a big piece of you isn’t there anymore. It couldn’t possibly be over? But you are unlikely to see your dog now until you step off the plane, so for now, we recommend you step into the airport lounge, order yourself a drink, and relax while you wait to board the plane. Your new family member is in good hands!