Written by Shanie
What do you do if you want to live abroad but have a pet?
Well, obviously, the two options of leaving the pet behind or not living out your dreams are not choices.
So what do you do? How does the family pet(s) become an ex-pat too?
It depends on the pet.
We moved here with our dog, as is obvious from other posts. It was vital to me that my canine son was able to make it to Argentina safely, with no quarantine and little emotional stress. He was ten at the time, so not a young pup.
Argentina does not quarantine. This fact definitely made me feel better when we were deciding to move or not. Click here for a great site that details foreign countries and their protocols for importing an animal.
When I was researching the different requirements for Bergen, I was initially told the wrong information by the Argentine consulate. According to them, I needed to make sure that Bergen had his current rabies shots. In the states, at his age, he needed that particular vaccine every three years. I thought that I was fine. But what they forgot to add was that the shot had to be at least a month and no more than one year old upon entering the country.
We had been canceled by our small town vet in Truckee right before we were to go in to get Bergen’s certificate of health. This turned out to be a blessing. We decided to use a vet in Los Angeles, where we were flying out from, due to the last minute urgency. The vet that our friend recommended happened to be a specialist in flying large animals internationally. He informed us that we needed to have the rabies shot immediately and that we would have to wait thirty days before we could enter Argentina.
To say the least, the stress level became heightened. That we were not all going to be able to travel together, that I would have to stay back in the states with no place to live for a month and Jamie would have to start our new life in Argentina on his own was not how we wanted our new lives to begin.
Thankfully, with a little Starbucks Gift Certificate persuasion, we convinced the vet to back date the shot for us.
So to make a long story short. Make sure you really research the requirements for the particular country of choice.
With the actual flight there are three options.
- the animal can be flown underneath with the luggage in a crate
- the animal can be transfered by a company specializing in such matters. They will usually pick the animal up, deal with all of the paperwork and deliver the pet to its destination.
- fly with the animal at your feet as a search and rescue dog if your pet is certified. Bergen flew as an avalanche rescue dog for one of our local ski areas. Planes, by law, are required to allow service animals in the cabin. Bergen sat at our feet and slept the entire flight. The flight attendants were very impressed, as was I.
- if you own a small animal (I believe under 10 pounds, but, of course, check with your chosen airline) it is possible for it to fly with you in the cabin, under the seat.
For us, Bergen traveling as a search and rescue dog was extremely important. For his well-being the option of being in a crate with luggage wasn’t worth it and Mom (me) was having a hard time with the other choice of him flying with someone else.
Traveling to live in a foreign country with the family pet is definitely do-able. We are friends with a couple that lives in San Rafael full time. They brought their four dogs, two cats and two horses with them. They flew together as a family and all crossed customs together (though the horses had quarantine in Buenos Aires for a month).
The animal family members are an important component to the happiness of living abroad. We call Bergen “The Glue” because of his amazing ability to put a smile on our face in times of strife.
So, if you are thinking of living internationally, don’t be afraid of bringing the furry family members. With a little homework and preparation, you’ll be glad your “Glue” is there too.
Bergen hanging with his brothers and sister on the farm (he is the handsome doggy in the foreground)