1. Dealing with the Airline:
Contact the airline to make the airline arrangements. Check out their rules, most airlines will have similar rules with possible slight variation, so check with YOUR airline. You need to arrange the following:
- Either plan to ship your pet under the plane or plan to have your pet as a carry on.
- Carry On Pet
- There is a weight and size limit on what can be a carry on pet. Each airline will specify the weight limit. With respect to dogs, I doubt that any Indian street dogs would be small enough, unless he or she is a puppy.
- Many flights only allow one pet carry on per flight, so book early if you want your kitty or pup to be the lucky one.
- The carrier must meet certain pre-requisites. It must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, big enough for the animal to turn around/stand. Again, check with the airline because they will give you specific measurements.
- Explore sedation methods with your vet. With the tranquilizer, pets do end up still being feisty at times, but a fraction of their natural high energy self and sleep a good part of each flight. Many vets don't favor sedation, but we recommend it highly.
a. It is a good idea to experiment with doses a few days before the flight to test how long the meds would last. By doing that experiment, one can learn whether that dose is sufficient or needs to be slightly raised. Using a combination of a needle shot and pills can also be considered, but one has to learn to give the shot yourself so that you can inject the sedation just before leaving for the airport. Most vets are not available at the late hour international flights leave, hence this is necessary. Pills can be used to supplement the shot. Crush the pill mix it in honey or butter, and smeared it on the paw, so that the puppy or kitten licks it off. This is good because butter is available on most flights.
- Fly as "Cargo" Pet
- If your pet is too big you'll have no option, but to ferry your pet in the cargo. There were horror stories about pets being left on runways, escaping and dying because the temperature or pressurization in the lower cabin wasn't turned on/set. Not that this happens frequently, but it is better to educate yourself by reading about your airline carrier and pet transport on the internet. Please ensure with the crew at the airport, to handle the pet carrier with care.
- Please label your crate with the pet's name, feeding instructions, a note about whether aggressive or not, a photo, etc. and that you should tape a bag of kibble and attach a hamster water bottle. A vet can guide on how this can be done.
- For sedation of pets traveling unaccompanied, please consult an experienced vet.
- The Beastie's Ticket
Your pet needs a "ticket" as well. It's a fraction of your seat, but all airlines will charge you something - say a couple of thousand rupees.
2. Vaccinations Up to Date
Once you have arranged the carrier and the ticket, you need to be sure that all vaccinations are up to date. Call your vet or just take the paperwork over to get everything looked at. It's not necessary to bring your pet at this point if you are just having your pet's vaccines given a once over to make sure things are in order. We just don't want any surprises when we go for the final transport certificates and you're going to have real problems if you are missing vaccinations.
3. Two Certificates
Assuming the vaccinations are proper, you will need:
- A "Health Certificate" from your regular vet that says "No sign or suspicion of a contagious disease was observed. As far as could be ascertained the general health of the animal was good."
This must be done a few days before the government certificate, which is only good for 7 days. To repeat that, you must get the government certificate within 7 days of your flight and the vet's certificate must be obtained just a few short days before the Govt certificate may be a week before.
- An "Animal Health Certificate" from the Animal Quarantine and Certification Service (Govt of India)
- You will need to call (022) 2755 2021 in advance and they will confirm when you can come ("Come Saturday after eleven, bring the animal" - they will say.
You will have to take your animal, his /her photographs (3 copies) and the Vet's Certificate (3 copies) to The Animal Quarantine centre, Kopar Khairance, Sector - 11, Navi Mumbai 400709. Presently Dr. Bhosale is in charge. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Attached is the front and back of the Animal Health Certificate that the Animal Quarantine & Certification Service (govt agency) will issue. They will type this out while you wait at the center with your pet. Note that point # 4 states that the certificate is valid for only 7 days. So go there a few days before your departure]
[Also attached is the front photo - a clear shot of the animal that allows it to be identified. Please take a full body snap and a face close up so that the quarantine officer can select the picture he thinks is appropriate. They then stamp the back of the photo. This is the proof that your pet is the one approved for travel].
- What you need to carry is:
- Take your pet with you.
- 3 photos of the pet (you'll want an extra to paste to the carrier, too)
- 3 copies of your vet's "Health Certificate"
- Information sufficient to complete the "Animal Health Certificate," which they will type out (using carbon paper) in the office. This includes: Breed (domestic short hair), age, sex, colour, identifying marks, and your final destination.
- There is no fee for this certificate. Call in advance. As an aside, they will likely also ask for "tips".
- The certificate is good for 7 days, after which the airport authorities won't accept it. IMP: DON'T GET CONFUSED BY A FLIGHT AFTER MIDNIGHT. THAT COUNTS AS THE NEXT DAY AND COULD RESULT IN YOUR PAPERWORK BEING A DAY TOO OLD.
- Be prepared. The facility is depressing and the people who work there don't seem to be animal lovers. They have no sympathy for your pet, who is scared and possibly panting from the heat of the un-air-conditioned office. They move in slow motion and are just plain rude. Just grin and bear it. You need something from them, so just keep your chin down and stay courteous.
4. International Cargo (Airport):
Contact number is (022) 26828194
5. Quarantine in the country of destination:
In the U.S.A. there is no separate quarantine for the pets coming into the U.S.A. but they advise you to quarantine the pet in your own house for at least a month. Since the pet is in your home, this quarantine is not difficult. Please find out the rules of quarantine that apply to the country of your destination, as every country has different rules.
6. Final words
- Don't get too stressed out. Remember that the life your furry friend is about to lead with you is much better than life in a cage or on the street. The flight is worth it :
- If you are taking your little friend as a carry on, don't be surprised when you have to remove him/her from the carrier and carry them in your arms through the metal detector. So keep the collar and leash on your pet, so that he or she does not bolt in fear.
- Your pet probably won't want to use the bathroom during the long trip. Airlines do arrange for short dog walks during layovers if he / she is friendly, but not for cats. So carry some litter in zip lock plastic bags in case you need to clean the cage. Also some old newspapers can come handy.
- There are several websites with information on traveling with pets, so you should take a few hours to play around and read what's out there.
- Be nice to people when making the arrangements and flying. You get more flies with sugar, and this isn't about our pride or getting the last word in . . . it's about saving a life. Telling off the person at the airport who gives you a hard time isn't going to help, but continuing to smile sweetly and calling the bastard "sir" just might.
- Call veterinarian Dr. Tina Rustomjee for any additional information you need. She is a fabulous person and has done this numerous times with cats and dogs. Her clinic number is Mumbai 2493 1105
- Samples of paper work done for a cat called Kodiak is attached for your reference.
(Prepared by Ms. Marilyn Primiano, member of IDA India, based on her personal experience of transporting two cats named Indiana Jones and Kodiak from Mumbai to the U.S.A.)