Dog days in the sun
Easy airways is a leading provider for pet relocation matters.
Last updated at 3:17 PM on 30th July 2010
A home abroad simply wouldn’t be the same without the cherished family pet. But it can be complicated to organise and will require both budgeting and planning.
Vaccines, blood-testing and import documentation have to be organised well in advance – and criteria differ wildly between countries – especially if you intend bringing your pet back to Britain at a future date.
‘Problems arise because people let their Pet Passports run out – or don’t keep up to date with the rabies vaccination,’ says Danny Butterfield, of Hampton Court-based Pet Relocator VIP Pet Service.
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‘So if circumstances change, and they suddenly need to come home, they can’t bring the pet back for six months, because it’s more complicated to return a pet to the UK than to take one out.’
With the Pet Passport scheme, outgoing animals are microchipped and rabies-vaccinated 21 days prior to departure and given a health certificate. Incoming animals also require a blood test in a process that must be set in motion six months before departure and costs around £200.
Danny, a former builder, set up Pet Relocator, in response to his sister’s difficulty in getting her four dogs back to Britain from Spain. Now he’s cashing in as dozens of British expats are returning home, pets in tow.
Most other specialist pet relocation services transport cats and dogs by air ‘cargo’.
This is considered to be the most affordable option, compared with the cost of flying a cat to Paris starting from around £500 and for a medium dog about £700. Danny transports the pets in people-carriers by road. his modus operandi of ‘an air conditioned vehicle with tinted windows for pets’ privacy and protection from the sun’ is, he says, far less stressful for an animal than going in the hold of an aircraft like baggage.
Pets are given exercise breaks every four hours in a typical two day drive from the South of England to southern Spain (or vice versa) with an overnight stop at a pet-friendly hotel.
Owners can travel with their pets in the vehicle, and the cost is a flat fare based on one people-carrier, whatever its contents.
‘It costs £1,650 from Malaga to London, which is more expensive than air travel, but with three dogs it can work out cheaper.
With a door-to-door service, at a time of your convenience (not usually guaranteed with other companies which do serial drop-offs), it is stress-free,’ according to Danny.
Whatever your budget, it’s advisable to use a specialist pet relocation service rather than attempt it yourself or go with a general removals company who might not be animal-lovers.
Companies who transport pets on a daily basis know the vagaries of different countries’ regulations and airlines’ ever-changing policies on carrying pets. They can also check you have the correct documents and vaccines.
If you arrive at the airport with your pet in the wrong-sized cage, or with incorrect paperwork or vaccines, you will be turned back, according to Dr Eytan Kreiner, head veterinarian at Animal Airways, a global pet relocation company.
‘Cats are crafty, they escape all the time, so it’s essential you secure and label your pet and cage correctly, or they might end up in the wrong place.
‘Another problem is delayed flights, which we are used to dealing with, but owners aren’t. human passengers are put up in a hotel but an animal will need to go to a kennel.’
He says British Airways is very pet-friendly, insisting on the correct bedding/ cage etc for animals; and Air France allows small dogs in the cabin.
In contrast, many airlines have stopped taking them altogether because of the hassle – this includes Ryanair and easyJet.
Mike Parish, of pet relocation specialist Par Air says that the recent suspension of flights of North Cyprus’s ailing flagship airline CTA has caused problems.
‘It is now very tricky to get pets into North Cyprus; you have to fly them to Larnaca [in Southern Cyprus] instead and the paperwork is complicated, so best left to experts.’
You certainly need an expert to get your head round the differing entry requirements.
While Cyprus requires dogs and cats to have tick and tapeworm treatments two days before travel, neighbouring Greece insists on worming 24 hours before leaving the UK, and Switzerland requires rabies vaccines at least 21 days before travel.
But for Turkey (and note that Turkish airlines will generally not carry pets), owners should travel in the same aircraft as their pets or they won’t clear customs.
Rules on quarantine also vary. In Turkish Cyprus it’s 30 days, while most European countries don’t demand it, assuming the animal is part of the Pet Passport scheme (for more information on this, see defra.gov.uk, or contact its PETS Travel Scheme on 0870 241 1710).
What about outside Europe? The most popular destinations for relocations are: South Africa (no quarantine, but import permit needed); Australia ( 30 days’ quarantine, blood tests for dogs); New Zealand (no quarantine, but cat and dog blood tests).
The Caymans are especially problematic, says Mr Parish, but he adds: ‘America and Canada are relatively easy, requiring only a health certificate,’ he adds.
When it comes to costs, they are based on the size of container needed so you must measure your pet carefully for a quote.
‘We can get a cat or small dog to most places in Europe from £600, a Labrador to Australia from £1,500, to New Zealand from £1,800, or from £800 to America,’ says Mr Parish.
For the Allotts, it cost £2,000 to transport their two cats Xabi and Sweetie from West Yorkshire to Australia, when they moved to Melbourne in June. Leaving them behind was simply not an option, whatever the cost.
‘Ours were street cats in China, rescued from becoming dinner. After such a sad start in life there was no way we’d not take them with us to Australia,’ says Angela, whose husband’s job for Ford takes them around the world.
‘We were expecting it to be difficult, but Par Air made things very simple and worry-free.
‘They organised the quarantine in Melbourne in advance, took care of them for a month when we were advised of a month’s waiting list, verified their health certificates, checked them in at heathrow, and sorted out their collection at the other end.
‘They were released on July 9 and are healthy and happy. It was money well spent.’
- PET Relocator VIP Service: 0208 397 6963, petrelocator.co.uk; Animal Airways: 0203 051 4087, animalairways.com; Par Air: 01206 330332, parair.co