Saturday, December 29, 2012

PCSing with Puppies! (and Kitties)

Here is a picture of my Goldens and two Cats waiting to board the plan in Narita, Japan.

If yall don't already know we are a military family that is on the move every three years. My husband is a Chief in the US Navy and he has been in the military for over 11 years. We have moved as a family two times so far. We started in Texas then went to Guam and from Guam we are now in Japan. If there is one thing I have learned from Moving with pets it is: You always have to have a plan A, B, C and maybe even a plan D.

We brought our two cats from Texas to Guam which was tricky since Guam is a rabies free zone. Then we got our two dogs in Guam and all 4 of them went to Japan with us which is also a rabies free zone. The hardest thing about moving from Guam to Japan was the language barrier. Although, we all made it there were a few bumps in between.

I would like to share some advice with fellow military families about PCSing overseas with your pets. The first thing to do is START EARLY!! If you are fortunate enough to have a vet on base you should start there. The base vet in Texas as well as Guam had websites, print outs and good information to help you start the process.
You will want to check the rabies status of your next overseas duty station. Places such as: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, Ireland, Taiwan, Hawaii, Guam, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand are all rabies free zones and will require some sort of quarantine procedure before your pet can go home with you. Some places allow for an "at home" quarantine stay IF you have all the requirements met.

To find more information on your next overseas duty stations policies you can go online to their website. They will usually have policies for PCSing with your pets posted. You can also check the host countries Department of Agriculture site for more information and requirements. Good resources to use are also your Sponsor, your Ombudsman, your Fleet and Family Center, as well as your base vet clinic.

Some of the things that are required for pet travel are: (please note this is not specific to any region, this is just a general idea of what is expected in some places)
  • FAVN - Follow the link for more information on the FAVN test. This information is provided by Kansas State University. Click here for FAVN Information
  • Microchip
  • Health Certificate, this will be provided by a veterinarian. It usually is valid for 10 days of travel. It is best to get health certificates done a day or so before travel just in case you get held up along your journey. The idea is NOT to let your health certificate expire before you reach your final destination.
  • Currently up to date vaccines
  • Proof of recent external parasite prevention application. This is usually Frontline, Advantix, etc.
Again, these are just a few general requirements for some rabies free duty stations. You will need to look up the requirements for each host country since they all vary in some way.

Once you get your plane tickets you will want to make reservations for your pet with that airline. Just in case you need one more thing to think about in this crazy process you want to make sure your pet has somewhere to stay once they land. Check with your new duty station or your sponsor to see what boarding facilities or quarantine facilities are available in the area. You want to ensure you make a reservation especially during peak PCSing times or the holidays.

The easier part of your journey is making sure you have the proper kennel or crate for your pet to travel safely. Also, to make sure you and your pet are prepared to make your journey.
You will find that when traveling your pet is required to have an International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved crate. Click on the link below to be taken to the IATA site for traveling with pets. IATA Information Each airline has specific requirements in addition to the IATA so check with your airline to ensure you meet their requirements as well.

We all want our pets to be safe and comfortable when they travel so here are a few things you can do to make travel on your pet a little easier.
  • If your pet is not used to being in a kennel slowly introduce it to them. Set it out in the house for a few days and let them get used to it. You can place it by their food bowl or their bed to create a positive association with the kennel and food or their happy place. Once your pet gets comfortable with the kennel being around you can try to put their food inside the kennel. Place it in the doorway at first then SLOWLY move the bowl into the kennel. This process can take weeks or even months depending on how comfortable your pet is with the kennel. You can also leave the top and door off the kennel and place a bed in there or the food bowl. This can also create a positive association. If this does not work there are many more tips and tricks you can try but remember make the kennel a positive thing. Never shove or force your pet into a kennel. This causes anxiety for the pet and makes it a negative experience.
  • On the day of travel put blankets, towels or sheets in the kennel that smell familiar to your pet.
  • Reduce the amount of food the day before travel and allow for access to the litter box or potty area before travel.
  • Take your dog on a long walk or get out your cats favorite toy for some play time before travel.  If you pet is mentally and physically exercised before being kenneled it should make your pet less tense or anxious.
  • Lastly, sedation of pets is highly discouraged before travel. The IATA has more information on this or you can speak to your veterinarian.
On the day BEFORE travel make sure you have all the required documents attached to their kennel. You will also want to keep copies of their record on you as well as copies of all necessary paperwork such as health certificates, rabies certificates and entry permits.
Don't forget to pack extra food for travel as well as frozen water bottle for them as well.

PCSing with pets should not be difficult but you want to ensure you cross all your T's and dot all your I's. You can never ask too many questions and you can never not have enough information on your host country and their policies. Good luck in your new advneture and always make sure you have a back up plan!

1 comment:

  1. Your advice regarding pet is really appreciable. I think that this advice will be follow all the pet lover.
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