Flying Fur

I am happy to report that yesterday afternoon, all three pets were delivered safely to our new home in Dublin. Now that this has happened, I can finally write about all of the hurdles, trials, and tribulations that we went through getting them to that point.

Big Getting Things Figured Out

As you can imagine, getting pets to a foreign country is difficult. The entire process started about three months ago, once we were certain that this was happening. It started with contacting a Pet Shipping company, as Brittany’s company agreed to foot the bill on this (as our pets are essentially our children, leaving them behind was not an option). Ireland only has one approved pet shipping vendor, so choosing one was rather easy.

After contacting the shipping company, Pet Express, I was sent a breakdown of what needed to be done and when. I was very pleased that I had plenty of time to do everything, and we had kept up to date medical records on all of our pets. The only requirement that I saw that was unfulfilled was that two of the animals needed to be microchipped.

A week later and all animals are chipped, and I have their rabies paperwork (one of the three main documents that are required) with their new microchip ID numbers printed on them. Unfortunately, we were waiting to pay the deposit for the pet transportation as Brittany’s official employment offer had still not yet come in, and we were not yet 100% certain when the move would be happening.

In May, we finally got that offer and set up a plan. She would move early June, and I would remain in the US to sell our house and items, and ship the animals. I would ship the animals 5 days before (Ireland requires non-commercial pet shipments be +/- 5 days of the owner’s flight) my flight, sell the house the next day, and be on the next flight out after that. Super simple right?

Brittany leaves and I send off all the needed paperwork to Pet Express for verification and tell them the finalized plan. It takes them a few days to get everything back to me, at which point they tell me that the rabies vaccination must happen after the microchipping. It does not matter if the pet has been vaccinated against rabies for 6 years. It does not matter if the microchip ID is on the paperwork. It must happen afterwards.

"No big deal, I can take them up to the vet today,” I said. Not so fast. Pets entering Ireland must be vaccinated against rabies more than 21 days before their arrival in Ireland, which puts the pets leaving 10 days later than intended. Ok… not a huge deal. I can move my flight and we’ll all go on the same day. I get the pets revaccinated (even though all of them have been vaccinated since birth) and so begins the dance of dates.

Animals leaving the US require a full examination by a USDA accredited veterinarian, and to have the vet sign off (in blue ink… because color copiers don’t exist, I suppose) that this was done. This also must be done on separate documentation for Ireland as well. Both of these documents then need to be taken to the USDA for endorsement. On top of all of that, this entire process must be done within 10 days of the pet’s arrival in Ireland.

So, after closing on my house, I drive 60 miles to the nearest USDA office that can endorse these forms. I arrive and there is one man behind the counter and another woman in the waiting room. “Excellent, no wait,” I thought. “I’ll be off and at the pub in no time.”

After speaking with the woman I learned that she had already been there two hours. It would seem that stamping some documents is a very, very involved process, and only one stamp can be done every 15 minutes. The stamping machine probably needs to cool down. I’m certain the stamping machine has it’s own union. The entire process took about 2 and a half hours. I still have no idea why… but it was done.

The last paperwork hurdle was a deworming of Moose (the dog). Does Moose have worms? Nope. But he must be dewormed. And this must be done no more than 5 days before his arrival in Ireland and no fewer than 2. So off he goes to get dewormed.

Finally, the day of their departure arrives and I spend the morning with my dad collecting all of the animals in our standard white unmarked rented van (SWURV) and putting them into their air travel crates with bedding for each of them. We then travel down to the location that we were meeting the pet shipment company near the airport in the SWURV, and hand them off with all of the documentation to Pet Express. This is where my direct involvement ended.

Unhappy Animals in the SWURV

After they left my care, they were taken to the “Live Animal Storage Room” at Delta Cargo where they would put newspaper in each of the crates (for the inevitable accident) and put ice in each of the crates clip on water bowls. They were then taken to the plane separately from other luggage in a different white van, (similar to the SWURV, but marked). They were then loaded into the cargo bay of the plane after all of the luggage.

Contrary to popular belief, the entirety of air plane’s bodies are pressurized. It would be very difficult to pressurize half of a cylinder. Also contrary to popular belief, it is roughly the same temperature as the rest of the plane.Also, regulations state that the crates for the pets must be big enough for them to stand up fully and lay down fully. So all of the pets were likely more comfortable than I was in my tiny economy seat.

Animals placed in the shade of the aircraft until they are ready to be loaded.

Upon landing, the pets were taken to a vet in Ireland to be reexamined and to ensure that they were healthy after the flight. All three were and they then brought them directly to our house in Dublin.

L.C. getting in touch with nature

They all seem to be doing rather well, none of them seem particularly traumatized by the trip. All three were very happy to see us. L.C. is very much enjoying the walled back garden here, and has set up camp inside one of the bushes. Mr. Big has been sleeping on the bed very comfortably, and Moose seems to have some trouble with the idea of a stone floor outside. He is currently whining to be let out, while standing outside. I should go see if I can help him understand.

Zombie Dog