Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 3/Pets)...

This has been the one thing that I've been most worried about for this move. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats. In prior moves it wasn't a big deal because we just drove ourselves and our dogs and cats with us to the next station. But this time we have to fly. There are rules for flying with pets, and rules for taking them overseas. I'm not sure what all of that entails just yet but I want to explain my experience up until now.

I've read and researched... but for the most part, I've listened to rumors. Scary rumors. You can only take 2 pets. It costs over $1000 per pet. You have to put your pets in quarantine for 2 months. RUMORS! Do not listen to the rumors. Do the research yourself, it will ease your mind a bit. John set up our flight date and at the appointment they told him he would get an email explaining what he needed to do next. And THEN we could call the airline that was flying us and find out how they handle pets. But in the meantime, we were waiting for this email that we were supposed to get the next week. 1 month later we still hadn't received it so I had him call. That's all it took. A phone call. Why are men so afraid to make those phone calls? It could have saved us a lot of stressful worry. I'm not saying the worrying is over... it's still there... but it's a relief to know exactly what needs to happen now.

Basically what we were told was all pets need to have their vaccinations taken care of 10 days before departure. Not earlier. I'm not sure if that means you can get it done 8 days before you leave or 15 days before you leave. But you'll bet I'll be making our vet visit exactly 10 days before we leave just to be safe! As far as I know, there are no quarantine laws in Germany, but we will have to make arrangements with a kennel to care for them while we look for housing.

Our particular airline (I think it's American Airlines) will allow you to travel with up to 5 kennels. Each kennel can hold 2 pets, but the total weight (including the kennel) cannot exceed 100 lbs. So if you have 2 small cats weighing only 10 lbs each, they can go together in one small kennel. That takes care of the cats. But the dogs are a bit heavier so they will have to go in separate kennels. The cost for each kennel is $150. Not $600... not $1000. Thank you God the bank account can breathe. There is still one slight worry though. If the temperature is higher than 85 degrees at the time of departure, they will not ship your pets and you will need to setup separate travel through a pet shipping company. We are traveling in a summer month... so there is still some concern. BUT... our plan is to wait for our itinerary and if our departure flight is during the day, we'll try to reschedule it to a morning or evening hour. Keep your fingers crossed... because we do not want to go through a pet shipping
company. I have no idea how much trouble that will add. But for now... a little of those rumor worries are eased.

UPDATE (Thanks to my friend for providing me with this helpful information!):

-Get them Micro chipped (the microchip needs to be inserted "PRIOR" to the most current rabies vaccine)

-Pet must be current on rabies vaccine and the vaccine needs to be older than 30 days.

- Get a bilingual health certificate by a USDA certified vet (military vets are all USDA certified) for German customs. This certificate is good for 4 months. But some airlines require it to be less than 10 days old. Check with your airline to make sure! If you don't have a vet on post, you can go to any non certified vet and send the paperwork to the USDA office of your state.

And a further note... we just received our itinerary. The flight was set to leave at an early morning time out of our local airport with one stop. We wanted to avoid these hours because of the risk of the temperature being too high. So instead we will be renting a Van and driving to the airport that will take us directly to Germany. In our eyes, this is a small exchange for having to ship our pets through a pet shipping company.

UPDATE: All of the above still seems pretty accurate... but since we are traveling in the very hot month of August, we will not be able to benefit from the regular $150 crate cost of shipping them accompanied as cargo. Booo! So we've decided to leave our dogs with my parents, and the cats with his mom. The plan is to ship them over to us when the weather cools off a bit, but it's looking like that may be pretty expensive like the original rumors suggested. Darn why can't we just have orders to get there in October instead!

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