Pet-owners make a lot of sacrifices for their dogs. You may lose sleep when you’ve got a puppy, drain your savings account to pay for veterinary procedures and give up on your dreams of having a nice backyard. But all the compromises you make result in a stronger bond between you and your dog.
Although you may have declined a few invitations in the past because of your responsibilities as a dog-owner, some opportunities are too good to pass-up. If you have the chance to live abroad, for example, you should take it – and take your dog, too! Businesses expanding to other parts of the world often need workers who are willing to relocate for a limited time to help with start-up, and professionals looking to broaden their horizons can find many fellowships abroad. If you should find such an opportunity, you can make it work for you and your dog.
Foreign import and export rules
Remember hearing about Justin Bieber’s pet monkey? It lives in a zoo now (and is probably better off), because Bieber failed to provide the right documentation to German authorities. Getting your pet’s documents in order isn’t too difficult, but you should start several months in advance of your trip, to account for any delays.
If you’re ready to go on an international adventure with your dog, you should begin by figuring out where you want to go and contacting that country’s consulate or embassy for specific information about importing and exporting animals. Some countries may require a quarantine period, or forbid the entry of foreign animals altogether. Once you’ve nailed-down what documentation you’ll need, you can present that information to your veterinarian and make sure everything’s in order before you go.
U.S. import and export rules
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulates the export of animals crossing the U.S. border. You’ll need to contact the APHIS Veterinary Services Area Office in the state where your pet’s flight will originate to determine what documentation is required under federal regulations. And contact your state’s health department to ask about local requirements for importing and exporting animals.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because your dog was born in the U.S., it can easily reenter the country. You may need additional documentation. For example, if you’ve been living in a country known to be affected with screwworm, before you depart for the U.S., you’ll need a certificate from a full-time salaried veterinarian stating your dog was free of screwworm within five days of departure.
Dog (and human) wellness
Air travel can be upsetting for dogs, and while some people say it’s OK to sedate your dog for air travel, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises against it. Ask your veterinarian whether sedation seems appropriate.
If you don’t already have pet insurance, get it before you go. Even though your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, there are always hazards in new environments – like poisonous plants (which you can read about on the ASPCA website). You should also get international health insurance for yourself to ensure your medical needs will be covered while you’re abroad.
Living abroad isn’t a good fit for all people – or all dogs – so think about it before you make the leap. If you decide to go, take time to get out and explore with your dog and experience all your new home has to offer.