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Travelling with your pet? Keep these rules in mind

Around 3,000 pet dogs and a thousand cats have boarded or alighted international carriers in 2018-19.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 28, 2019, 08.56 AM IST
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USA and Canada are the easiest countries to travel with pets. (Representative image)
Today, most well-heeled travellers or those taking up work assignments abroad don’t want to leave their pets behind. But there are rules to follow.

Earlier this month, a Russian man lost hundreds of thousands of air miles after he smuggled an overweight cat onto a cross-country flight.

While Mikhail Galin used a body-double cat to work around the airline’s weight limit, most passengers don’t need to resort to such extremes when flying with their pets.

It has become fashionable for Indians who take up overseas work assignments, as also expats who come to India on work visas, to relocate with their pets in tow. That apart, several well-heeled Indians now prefer to take their pets along while going on overseas vacations. When Ujvala Vemparala decided to relocate to Mumbai from New York to start her smoothie brand, her biggest worry was how to take five-year-old Rani, a Lhasa Apso, along.

Furry Flyers, a pet relocation consultant, helped Vemparala with the paperwork to move Rani to India. “I carried her in-cabin,” says Vemparala. “There’s a lot of paper-work involved, and each country has its own sets of pet entry and exit laws,” she adds.

​Ujvala Vemparala’s five-year-old Lhasa Apso, Rani, has travelled with her to the US, Canada, Dubai, Bahrain, and now​ India.
Ujvala Vemparala’s five-year-old Lhasa Apso, Rani, has travelled with her to the US, Canada, Dubai, Bahrain, and now India.

Travelling pets
Around 3,000 pet dogs and a thousand cats have boarded or alighted international carriers in 2018-19, as estimated by pet relocators and government-appointed quarantine officials.

“I’ve also handled a few clients who preferred to charter planes to fly their pets to nearby locations,” says SK Choudhary, a veterinarian and founder of Petfly, a pet travel consultant.

“Pets these days are considered as part of the family. Pet parents do not want to keep their wards in hostels when they travel. They prefer to take them along — whatever be the cost,” he adds.

Beyond that, the rise in the number of “travelling pets” is on account of Indians travelling abroad and foreigners coming to India. Many a time, companies provide pet relocation benefits to mid- and senior-level employees travelling to foreign offices.

“It’s mostly people who relocate for jobs who take their pets along. They do not want to leave their pet unattended when they’re away,” says Vinayak Prabhu, founder of Furry Flyers. “Inbound or outbound tourists generally don’t take their pets along as the pet immigration process is lengthy and rigorous.”

Flying fluff balls

USA and Canada are the easiest countries to travel with pets. These countries require just a health certificate, vaccination records and a no-objection certificate (from Animal Quarantine and Certification Service) to allow entry to a foreign pet. But Hawaii in USA has stricter rules for incoming pets.

Transferring pets to Europe is a long-drawn process — often taking 100 to 140 days. The animal has to first be microchipped to establish identity; then it has to be given anti-rabies vaccination, followed by a resting period of 30 days. Blood samples are then turned into a serum, which are sent to European labs to analyse the effectiveness of the anti-rabies vaccination. The pet can travel to Europe only after the lab gives a clear report.

Island countries like Australia and New Zealand have even more stringent pet relocation rules. Indian pets have to first stay in a rabies-free country for one to three months. Countries like Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Hong Kong may also quarantine incoming pets for seven to 120 days.

Indian authorities demand a health certificate and vaccination records prior to allowing pets entry into India.

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