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Rated: E · Article · Animal · #973228
Lets try to knock out some of the difficulties of transporting mans best friend.
It was 3:30 am at the Bangkok airport in Thailand; Northwest had just arrived on site for their one and only flight that day to the United States. The supervisor looked at us over the cloth rail, eyes raised in silent astonishment at the 12 kennels holding 13 Thai Ridgeback Dogs "TRDs." Walking over he looked at me and asked the one question he would dread for the rest of the morning: "Who are you flying with and where to?" I pointed his direction and supplied the text book answer, flight North West 28 from Thailand to New York.

I had reserved the cargo space at the time I had booked the flight, minimizing the number of stops. I had one lay over in Japan with an end destination of New York. But the requirements to move such a large number of dogs was daunting to say the least; international animal transportation requirements, shots, chips, health certificates and the list goes on.

The excerpt above is probably the reason the average person does not fly their pet anywhere in the continental United States or abroad. But maybe I can supply a few tips from a LOT of experience on how to take your favorite pet with you, anywhere you go.

First things first, is your pet in good enough shape to travel? Once you have gauged that your critter is not going to have a heart attack on the trip, you will need to obtain the latest and greatest on flying requirements from the airlines. Check the entrance point if flying within the continental US and check the entrance point for your return to the US if flying in from another country.

Here is what happened to me when I was unable to confirm my return flight with North West in Bangkok Thailand. I was standing at the counter handing over health certificates, chipping documentation, and shot records to this very personable Thai woman. I had a somewhat smug look of satisfaction on my face that I had covered all my bases. Suddenly the woman behind the counter looked up and asked "Where is your export documents?" I looked at her with a look of astonishment and asked "What export documents?" This apparently had been a requirement with an enforcement date of two years prior, no where to be found on paper or on electrons. All the research I had done and all the phone calls I had made never prepared me to have to delay my flight for 24 hrs in order to hunt down some federal vet and obtain these documents, all with 13 dogs in tow and no transportation. An avoidable problem when you contact the airlines 48 hrs prior to shipping as they request. Something I failed to do when I found out the hard way that the help desk was not working that day.

Here is the next great decision on transporting your pet. Is he going on the plane with you or as cargo? Just remember size is important when flying. If he is small enough to fit in a travel carrier he can go on the flight, if not he has to go below. But then again if your pet is twice as big as you he may have to utilize a local cargo company that handles live animals. The price is normally about twice that of a normal flight.

All the dogs were finally checked in and I found myself relaxing for the first time in days on the Bangkok flight to Japan, comfortable in the fact that I had receipt slips for each dog confirming my precious cargo. I knew the next time I saw the pups would be in New York at the International Airport.

Now you wonder how does one person carry around 13 dogs through customs and out of the airport. Here is the trick, find someone toting around an extra wide trolly and hire him. Meekly walking up to the man with the cart I told him I needed three of those carts, he smiled and within minutes had what I needed. I thought a dollar per piece of luggage was a great deal, that's what the sign on the side of the cart stated. I now know I should have asked before hiring them. The spokeman for the three came up to me at the end asking for $80. I choked and practically spit my drink on myself. Looking him in the eye I said "I'm not paying $80 for 30 min of your time." The cart states $1 per piece, each kennel equates to at max two pieces per with 4 kennels per cart making the total cost $24 and maybe a tip for great service. He walked off and they disappeared into the crowd. I felt bad but they were usurping the system.

Now that your precious cargo is checked into the airline, if he is with you on the flight there is no more worries, he will be with you till you reach your end destination. If he has been plugged into the system at the counter, then you will pick him up at a special baggage claim site at your end destination. If you have utilized a special carrier company, unfortunately you will now have to go hunt him down at the companies drop off site, usually pretty close to the airport.

All 13 animals were exemplary upon hitting the ground, despite the 13 hr flight none of the dogs had deposited in their kennel. The dogs now live wonderful lives with their new families to include the six I own personally.

Here is a rehash of the requirements to look for when transporting your animal.

Within the US:
Health certificate
Rabies shot; less than a yr old or 30 days after first shot
Temperature is within tolerance
Cash; around $110 per animal
Kennel size is correct for the size of the animal

Outside the US:

International health certificate
Rabies shot; less than a yr old or 30 days after first shot
Temperature is within tolerance
Quaranteen requirements
Import/export documents
Kennel size is correct for size of animal
Cash; around $130 per animal
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