Friday, October 16, 2015

Health certificates

Many people don't realize how easy, or how hard it can be to transport your pet around the world.  I have met the "UN" of dogs and cats (besides my own travel).  There are dogs and cats in the US from Chile, Japan, Africa, the UK and Poland, just to name a few.  A recent trend has been for people to get dogs from the "Islands" in the Bahamas.  There are stray dogs all over the world that need rescuing.  There are also dogs in Afghanistan and the Middle East who "adopt" military units, become friends and even unofficial guard dogs for soldiers.  Check out the following link:

While international travel can be stressful for people, just imagine for animals.  In a future post, I'll write more about traveling with your pet.

There are some countries (mostly the island countries like Japan, Taiwan and the UK), that don't have rabies in their wildlife.  They are understandably super-protective about keeping it out of their country.  Dogs and cats going to these countries require a very particular process before they can go.  I recommend to clients if they are planning on traveling internationally, particularly to these countries, that they make an appointment to talk to their veterinarian 1 year before travel.  6 months prior to travel, a microchip needs to be placed in the pet (if it hasn't been done already) and a rabies titer needs to be drawn and sent to a particular lab in Kansas.  This applies to animals all over the world

Interesting enough, when I went to Mongolia, they had me bring back paperwork from the lab in Kansas (they thought I would be faster and more reliable transport of the super-important paperwork than the international postal system).

To sign a international health certificate (and interstate health certificate), the veterinarian actually needs to be accredited by the federal government.  This requires additional training and additional liability.  We become "sub-agents" of the federal government.  The government doesn't have the money or desire to have their own veterinarians for this job, so we fulfill it.

Then there's a variety of paperwork that as a veterinarian feels like it changes way too frequently.  We have a website we can go to that has international regulations, but a lot of the time the particulars can be dependent on the embassy, airline, or mood of the government official.  In our area, once the final physical exam is done by the veterinarian, the paperwork has to be sent to a government official 3 hours away from here, so often clients have to take a long drive to get an official stamp on their health certificate.

If things are not done 100% properly, this could mean the pet doesn't get to take the trip, is turned away at the airport or even worse that they get put into quarantine for up to 6 months in the country they travelled to.  Besides being separated from their family, the quarantine charges can add up to over $30,000.  Very expensive.  There are many veterinarians who choose not to do health certificates because the potential for liability (and the massive paperwork headache) are just not worth it.

Just some info to be aware of if you think your pet might become an international traveller... Let me know if you have any questions : )

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